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12.23.11

Apple Does Malicious Stuff With Patents as More Courts Sidle With Linux/Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 4:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Back to the basket for the bullies from Cupertino

Basket of apples

Summary: A roundup of news about Apple’s patent wars (against everyone) and a bit of good news, arriving just before Christmas

AS we return to covering the patent issue we regret to say that there is mostly bad news. Being aware of the news, however, is regretfully essential.

The subject we chose to tackle last is Apple. This company is fast becoming just as much of a nuisance as Microsoft has been. The Inquirer (British tech tabloid) has a nice way of covering Apple stories and it is filled with subtle humour that cushions the blow of horrible news. Recently it covered the news about Apple getting sued for caller ID patents. Previously, a caller ID app for Android was killed this way, demonstrating the terrible state of the patent system.

“Apple’s behaviour with patents is not just harming Linux or Android users; it is harming everyone and even Opera is complaining, noting that Apple patents undermine open standards.”Apple the patent bully might learn to dislike software patents if it gets sued by them quite a lot. So in a way the above news can be classified as good news.

Apple’s behaviour with patents is not just harming Linux or Android users; it is harming everyone and even Opera is complaining, noting that Apple patents undermine open standards. Mike Masnick put it like this and “going for leadership in evil” wrote Glyn Moody (via Jérémie Zimmermann).

Let us recall Apple’s support for MPEG-LA. Apple promotes video tax in yet more ways based on this new report which says:

Royalty-free web vid spec sets sail with Apple’s help

A proposed standard to stream video online smoothly, regardless of network conditions, has been pushed forward with some rather unexpected patent-holder help.

MPEG-DASH was approved in a vote by ISO national member bodies as a way to stream media over HTTP. Publication of the standard is expected “shortly”.

MPEG-DASH could supersede a raft of proprietary and royalty-protected technologies, developed by tech companies to stream media to mobile devices in particular – which are at the mercy of varying network speeds and connectivity conditions.

To Hell with Apple for helping those patent trolls. Another person who helps them is Microsoft Florian, who has pushed their agenda since last year. Florian no longer tries to endorse Microsoft in public because people already know that Microsoft pays him. That would further discredit this deceitful lobbyist.

“Florian no longer tries to endorse Microsoft in public because people already know that Microsoft pays him.”Looking at what Apple does to Linux/Android, here we have a report on “Apple’s first major legal win against Android,” which is “no slam dunk” because despite attempts to remove Linux devices from the shelves, Apple is not quite there yet. But to quote Reuters: “Patent firm IPCom said on Tuesday it had asked top German cellphone retailers to stop selling phones of HTC, threatening them with legal action, as HTC has not complied with a court ruling on injunction of its sales.”

FOSS-hostile patent lawyers write about Apple’s embargo attempts in the US and Murdoch’s fake news claims that HTC phones are “banned from store shelves” although it’s not quite true in practice. As the FFII’s president puts it:

Laughing loud on Apple’s patent “tap on a phone number or address contained in an email to immediately call the number”

Due to this kind of stupidity “Apple May Get To Remove Obvious Features From Android”. Here are some of the details:

Apple May Get To Remove Obvious Features From Android

[...]

Copying an idea and building on it is not “stealing.” And if Apple had to build its devices without building on the ideas of others, it wouldn’t have very much today. This whole thing is a joke, and it’s rulings like this that make engineers have even less respect for the patent system.

Apple brings is bullying to Britain now, i.e. it comes to new countries where software patents are in principle not permitted. Slashdot tells us that “Apple Transfers Patents Through Shell Company To Sue All Phone Makers 422″. We covered this some days ago, but here is the summary which has a huge discussion at the end:

“A patent lawsuit (PDF) by patent licensing firm Digitude Innovations curiously targeted all mobile manufacturers except Apple. A TechCrunch story has revealed that the patents used were transferred from Apple via a shell company to DI, and appear to cover features found in virtually all smartphones. The lawsuit even extends to companies that don’t make Android phones, like Nokia and RIM, and to Android OEMs that Apple have not directly sued yet, like Sony. The business model of DI clearly implies that Apple would benefit financially from the lawsuit as a company that contributed patents to DI’s portfolio.”

Slashdot shows another ridiculous patent from Apple and notes that:

“Apple has had quite a week in patents for the iPhone, and it’s only Tuesday. First was the victory at the International Trade Commission over HTC. And now there’s a shiny new patent on switching to an app during a live phone call (#8,082,523). There may be non-infringing ways of doing something similar, but they probably will be clumsy in comparison.”

Supporters of Apple’s ways should take a moment to objectively assess what Apple is doing here.

Here is how Muktware put it: “In a nutshell its about how you can switch between call and an app. Almost every touch-based phone uses this ‘process’ and potentially infringes upon this patent. It will be a challenge for Apple competitors to find other ways to do the same thing. Yet another example of the software/process patent mess that the flawed US patent system is creating.”

Google has been getting its own share of ridiculous patents, but it has no history of using patents offensively. This ought to invalidate concerns about Google getting more patents. Bloomberg says:

European Union regulators suspended their antitrust review of plans by Google Inc. (GOOG), the biggest maker of smartphone software, to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. after requesting more information about the deal.

The antitrust authority will continue the review after it has obtained “certain documents that are essential to its evaluation of the transaction,” said Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the Brussels-based European Commission. The commission temporarily stopped the review on Dec. 6, according to a filing on the regulator’s website today.

The patent angle need not be of concern because Google is not offensive with patents, contrary to claims from the Microsoft lobbyist (Florian). If anything, it can make Motorola more patents hostile and thus reduce altercations. According to this new article, patents are becoming more and more of an issue to Google because:

• Is the cloud the new front in the tech patent wars? A company headed by the founders of peer-to-peer networks Kazaa and Morpheus have reportedly banded together to sue Google, Amazon.com, VMWare and others, alleging patent infringement on cloud technology. The website of the plaintiff, PersonalWeb, says the company owns 13 “fundamental pending and issued patents,” and that it is “developing ground-breaking technologies and products,” including StudyPods, an online learning platform that’s in beta. But a patent-law specialist quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald points out that PersonalWeb filed the lawsuits in a Texas court that’s the “preferred venue for so-called patent trolls.” The eight patents in question include those related to “content addressable storage and/or distributed search engine technologies,” according to the SMH.

Going back to Apple, the company is trying to restrict designs based on ideas that it never came up with itself. To quote Slashdot:

“In a public legal brief (PDF), Apple offers numerous design alternatives that Samsung could have used for its smartphones and tablets to avoid infringing on Apple’s patents. Basically, as long as competitors’ smartphones and tablets bear no resemblance to smartphones and tablets, everything’s cool.”

To finish this with some good news (for a change), Apple lost a case in Germany and that rectangle with buttons on it will therefore be legitimate for sale, even without an apple-shaped logo:

Apple Lost Germany, Court May Allow Samsung To Sell Galaxy Tab

After Australia Apple has lost another ‘patent’ post, this time its Germany. A German court earlier banned the sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany owing to ‘controversial’ design patents. The same design patents were rejected in a Dutch court. To respect the verdict, Samsung modified the design of its Galaxy Tab (which in fact enhances the user experiences as the speakers now face the user) and called it Galaxy Tab 10.1N.

Or as SJVN put it:

Take a long look at the two versions of Samung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the right. One, says a German court, violated Apple’s iPad intellectual property (IP) design and thus couldn’t be sold in the European Union (EU). The other one is fine and dandy and can be sold. Can you tell the critical IP differences? Try to work it out before this story’s end.

As you may recall, Apple managed this summer to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned from being sold in the EU (European Union) because its design looked too much like an iPad. That was a dumb decision. Any tablet has to look pretty much like any other tablet. Now, though, it appears that the tide has turned against Apple. The German court has preliminarily decided that Samsung’s revised design no longer violates Apple’s iPad design.

We are probably going to hear a lot more about it next year. Until then, let us savour the taste of this small victory.

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12 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    December 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Gravatar

    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/12/workarounds-and-designarounds-are-what.html

    The claim that Apple or Jobs is against Android is simply not supported by the data. As Steve Jobs said:

    We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.

    Competition is fine. Theft is not. Not a hard concept.

    phaim Reply:

    Come on… Really? A quick google search comes up with this pertinent quote from his biography:

    “”I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death because they know they are guilty.”

    See http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/238145/20111027/steve-jobs-book-should-apple-kill-android.htm

    There you go. Jobs is willing to spend $40 billion of his company’s money to see Android die, not because it makes business sense or anything like that, but just on principle.

    And it’s probably not a great idea to quote a guy that the above blog went to great lengths to discredit as being a biased shill. Certainly, you can come up with a source that’s considered to be less biased?

    (full disclosure – Android fan but not an Apple products hater; just an Apple business tactics hater)

    Michael Reply:

    What is wrong with being willing to spend money on principles? I do not see that as a bad thing at all!

    In any case, if you read the link I gave you, in the greater context Jobs was not against *Android*, he was against the taking of other’s ideas without their permission.

    This is what the GPL is about – you can only use someone’s ideas in a way that is in accordance with the IP owners wishes. It is why many are against the BSD license – it allows greater use (freedom) of the code.

    In essence, Google treated the iOS as if it had a BSD license and they could do with it as they pleased no matter what Apple wanted or what agreements they had with Apple. Apple has stood up against that, as we OSS advocates would stand up to Apple if they were to take GPL code and use it outside of the way it is licensed (Apple did get behind on releasing code for a couple of months – during that time many were very harsh in their criticisms against Apple).

    All companies learn from their competition… but there is a line one should not cross where you go from being inspired by to outright copying. Jobs felt that at least some Android devices had crossed this line. And at least in the case of Samsung the evidence is overwhelmingly in Apple’s favor. This does not mean they have not taken missteps or asked for more than they “should” knowing the courts will shoot down some things… nor does it mean Apple is blameless. But for people to pretend Apple started this or is the one doing the “big bad” is just silly and contrary to the evidence.

    All I ask is for people to look at the evidence. Come to a *reasoned* conclusion. Back it up. But Roy’s habit of just deeming Apple and MS evil in all things is juvenile and weakens the OSS movement. Heck, look at how the call to boycott Apple is being handled at Slashdot – a site that is anything but Apple friendly. The ideas that spread from Techrights to Slashdot are being laughed at… OSS advocates such as myself get lumped in with such BS. It hurts all of us who like OSS.

    phaim Reply:

    I think the quote I mentioned above and Apple’s general litigation strategy speak for themselves. Apple is out to get Google and Android. This makes perfect strategic sense because Android is the only legitimate long-term competition to iOS on the market right now and for the past couple of years.

    But I think many observers take it a step further; it appears from the quote and the general context of Jobs’s statements about the litigation that Steve had a personal score to settle with Google and Android. This would make some sense because Google used to be a close friend (back when Schmidt was on Apple’s board) and is now a bitter rival. Such are the frailties of the human condition; that they succumb to human emotions and motives.

    I think that most people’s issue with Apple’s litigious nature over the past year isn’t the motives for the litigation. It’s the fact that they believe, first of all, that many of the patents and especially the European protected designs which Apple are using to attack Android in the courts should not have been patentable or protected both on the level of what current law is and what current law ought to be. Many of the patents arguably should be invalidated on the basis of prior art and obviousness (such as the recent one about methods for essentially multi-tasking between a phone call and an app, which is an obvious extension of multi-tasking in general and has been around for decades before the patent application was filed). And I think that what people find particularly disturbing is that so many of the improvements to iOS, e.g. multi-tasking, notifications, counter-factually would not have happened in the timeframe that they did (I’m allowing they arguably would have happened eventually anyways, just not as soon) if not for competition that Steve Jobs considered illegitimate. And that hurts the same customers (i.e., us) that Steve Jobs claimed to so ardently want to serve.

    My personal bottom line is, I like Android and the immersive Google products experience it provides. I don’t want Apple to damage that experience and I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason why they should be able to on the patent front.

    Michael Reply:

    I think the quote I mentioned above and Apple’s general litigation strategy speak for themselves. Apple is out to get Google and Android. This makes perfect strategic sense because Android is the only legitimate long-term competition to iOS on the market right now and for the past couple of years.

    But why are the “out to get Google and Android”? Other than the copying of Apple hardware and software, what complaints has Apple made?

    None that I know of. You? I suspect not. The only thing Apple has complained about is unfair competition (even if you do not agree with them that it is unfair).

    Hard to *logically* paint them as the bad guy based on that!

    But I think many observers take it a step further; it appears from the quote and the general context of Jobs’s statements about the litigation that Steve had a personal score to settle with Google and Android. This would make some sense because Google used to be a close friend (back when Schmidt was on Apple’s board) and is now a bitter rival. Such are the frailties of the human condition; that they succumb to human emotions and motives.

    Again, though, what was this rivalry based on? Google selling ads? No. Google collecting personal data (that is its primary business model)? No. It was the copying of Apple’s hardware and software.

    I think that most people’s issue with Apple’s litigious nature over the past year isn’t the motives for the litigation. It’s the fact that they believe, first of all, that many of the patents and especially the European protected designs which Apple are using to attack Android in the courts should not have been patentable or protected both on the level of what current law is and what current law ought to be. Many of the patents arguably should be invalidated on the basis of prior art and obviousness (such as the recent one about methods for essentially multi-tasking between a phone call and an app, which is an obvious extension of multi-tasking in general and has been around for decades before the patent application was filed). And I think that what people find particularly disturbing is that so many of the improvements to iOS, e.g. multi-tasking, notifications, counter-factually would not have happened in the timeframe that they did (I’m allowing they arguably would have happened eventually anyways, just not as soon) if not for competition that Steve Jobs considered illegitimate. And that hurts the same customers (i.e., us) that Steve Jobs claimed to so ardently want to serve.

    I would agree that some of the specific patents Apple has targeted are silly. The current patent system is severely broken… but there is no real remedy other than to play the system, and that is what Apple is doing. If they system were working, all Apple would have to do is show evidence such as this:

    If Samsung could not show how that was grossly wrong, which so far I have seen no evidence that it is, then they would be blocked from selling such obvious knockoffs. And fined.

    But the law does not work that way. So Apple has to use the laws as they are. So be it.

    My personal bottom line is, I like Android and the immersive Google products experience it provides. I don’t want Apple to damage that experience and I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason why they should be able to on the patent front.

    OK, at least you admit that you have a personal stake in this – you want Apple to lose because you know if Apple wins – if Apple is able to stop Android devices from ripping off Apple devices – then your devices will not be as good. So be it.

    I see a bit differently: all companies learn from and are inspired by others. That is fine. The evidence above, however, shows Samsung clearly crossing the line (or, since there is no clear-cut line, maybe it is not so clear… but I have yet to see any reasoned counter). Others have accused Apple of crossing similar lines – and if they did I would be against that, too (though I have not seen evidence of Apple doing so… have you?). This does not mean that nobody can ever make an Apple knock-off, but there should be limits on when and how it can be done (is making a knockoff Apple II OK now? Maybe… even if Apple does not want you to… it is over 20 years old).

    Michael Reply:

    Whoops… do to poor formatting on my part the links (evidence) did not show up. Here it is:

    http://i.imgur.com/TmUj2.jpg
    http://goo.gl/S2AJR
    http://goo.gl/bWDs6
    http://goo.gl/NjrfV

    Sorry about that.

    phaim Reply:

    I’ll clarify just a few points since your responses indicate that I didn’t get my point across. First, there is good reason to suspect that Steve might have had a personal bone to pick with Google over Android. First is the quote which I believe can reasonably be construed as overly aggressive and not in keeping with the reasoned judgment of a business person who does not take things personally. Since Steve clearly concluded that Google stole Apple’s ideas to create Android, it stands to reason that he further took the move quite personally and, as outlined in the quote from my first post, decided to take it to an extreme level by his standards (his language is extreme, there’s no two ways about that. In the context he uses it, $40 billion is clearly intended to be an extreme amount. Which it is). Second, this suspicion is butressed by the backstory. Back when, Google and Apple weren’t competitors and had pretty strong strategic partnerships. Then Google came out with a competing product (Android) that threatened to severely cut into the sales of Apple’s core products (iOS devices). Combined with the quote, it just plain sounds like Steve had a bit of a personal vendetta against Google for daring to compete with him using his ideas (the arrogant tone isn’t beyond him either, it’s widely accepted that he had an ego, albeit a well deserved one since he was so damn successful)

    But all this isn’t so important as what Apple is actually doing.

    Apple is breaking an informal cease-fire by using a broken system to pursue mostly ridiculous intellectual property claims. I say ridiculous based both on my own opinion of their merit (yes, I do disagree with judges. They are notoriously bad at understanding intellectual property issues and Apple is exploiting this in a similar manner to patent trolls) as well as my opinion about what the law would be if I were king and made the laws myself (I would be a benevolent dictator of course).

    I claim that Apple is breaking an informal cease-fire because I believe, as a counterfactual matter, that but for Apple’s aggressive litigation stance, all the various suits between Apple and the various other manufacturers they are locked in litigation with (such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC) would not be occurring in either direction. This includes litigation originating from Motorola which is threatening to cause a ban on all Apple products in Europe, see http://9to5mac.com/2011/12/09/motorola-scores-major-in-german-patent-suit-against-apple/. That would be a similarly stupid tragedy caused by the patent system. But I believe all this would be avoided if Apple hadn’t fired the first shot. So in my mind that makes Apple culpable for the outbreak of patent stupidity out there.

    And I think that single conclusion is what really ticks people off. Not Steve’s motives. Not his ego or their hatred of all things Apple. Rather, I think many believe that if Apple wasn’t being such a bully about this, everyone would basically be getting along and concentrating on trying to make better products.

    Michael Reply:

    I’ll clarify just a few points since your responses indicate that I didn’t get my point across. First, there is good reason to suspect that Steve might have had a personal bone to pick with Google over Android. First is the quote which I believe can reasonably be construed as overly aggressive and not in keeping with the reasoned judgment of a business person who does not take things personally. Since Steve clearly concluded that Google stole Apple’s ideas to create Android, it stands to reason that he further took the move quite personally and, as outlined in the quote from my first post, decided to take it to an extreme level by his standards (his language is extreme, there’s no two ways about that. In the context he uses it, $40 billion is clearly intended to be an extreme amount. Which it is).

    Sure, Jobs might have taken Google’s plagiarism personally… being more offended by it than if it had been some random company (with the means to do so). There is that possibility. We do not really know.

    Second, this suspicion is butressed by the backstory. Back when, Google and Apple weren’t competitors and had pretty strong strategic partnerships. Then Google came out with a competing product (Android) that threatened to severely cut into the sales of Apple’s core products (iOS devices). Combined with the quote, it just plain sounds like Steve had a bit of a personal vendetta against Google for daring to compete with him using his ideas (the arrogant tone isn’t beyond him either, it’s widely accepted that he had an ego, albeit a well deserved one since he was so damn successful)

    Again, I do not disagree that Jobs ego (and it seems to be no small thing!) might have been tied to his anger at Google’s plagiarism. How much and in what way – all speculation. But I think the focus should be on Google’s plagiarism and not on how those they wronged reacted.

    But all this isn’t so important as what Apple is actually doing.

    Apple is breaking an informal cease-fire by using a broken system to pursue mostly ridiculous intellectual property claims.

    Cease fire? Has Google pulled Android? Agreed to stop plagiarizing? Not that I have heard!

    I say ridiculous based both on my own opinion of their merit (yes, I do disagree with judges. They are notoriously bad at understanding intellectual property issues and Apple is exploiting this in a similar manner to patent trolls) as well as my opinion about what the law would be if I were king and made the laws myself (I would be a benevolent dictator of course).

    I claim that Apple is breaking an informal cease-fire because I believe, as a counterfactual matter, that but for Apple’s aggressive litigation stance, all the various suits between Apple and the various other manufacturers they are locked in litigation with (such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC) would not be occurring in either direction.

    I can accept that Apple is aggressively responding to Google’s plagiarism (and that of Samsung and the like). Sure. That does not make them the aggressor in the battle, though. That is the *reaction* to the plagiarism… and a reaction, by definition, is not the start of something.

    This includes litigation originating from Motorola which is threatening to cause a ban on all Apple products in Europe, see http://9to5mac.com/2011/12/09/motorola-scores-major-in-german-patent-suit-against-apple/. That would be a similarly stupid tragedy caused by the patent system. But I believe all this would be avoided if Apple hadn’t fired the first shot. So in my mind that makes Apple culpable for the outbreak of patent stupidity out there.

    How is Apple “aggressive” reaction to plagiarism “the first shot”? I do not see how it can be. The plagiarism was the “first shot”.

    And I think that single conclusion is what really ticks people off. Not Steve’s motives. Not his ego or their hatred of all things Apple. Rather, I think many believe that if Apple wasn’t being such a bully about this, everyone would basically be getting along and concentrating on trying to make better products.

    So if Apple had just bent over and not reacted to the wrongs of Google, all would be good. They did not so it is their fault…

    Wow. I cannot disagree more. I think Google and Samsung and the like are at fault for their plagiarism… and while I think the laws Apple is using in reaction are often absurd laws, I do not really blame Apple for reacting to such an attack by using the broken legal system.

    You do. Fine: but what else should they have done? Your only stated alternative was just to ignore the attacks – do you have anything else?

    phaim Reply:

    I don’t think there was any impermissible copying (You use the word plagiarism but unless they copied actual code I don’t think that’s the right word). Every patent or “design” I’ve read about thus far seems obvious and reasonable copying. As Jobs once quoted, “good artists borrow; great artists steal”. Nobody covering this issue has drawn my attention to any single idea that Google copied from Apple (and frequently the idea didn’t even originate with Apple, e.g.a grid layout for apps, pinch to zoom) that I find offensive or over the line.

    Guess we’ll agree to disagree on that point since you’ve clearly stated that Google has crossed some sort of line in terms of their copying.

    Michael Reply:

    I don’t think there was any impermissible copying (You use the word plagiarism but unless they copied actual code I don’t think that’s the right word).

    Hmmm, I wanted to check if it was the right word, so I looked it up. The definition I found using Google’s “define” feature was “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

    That is exactly what Apple is alleging… and at least in the case of Samsung the support for this claim is overwhelming. Seems pretty strong in the case of Android itself, though I have not seen any smoking gun quite as strong.

    Every patent or “design” I’ve read about thus far seems obvious and reasonable copying.

    Once you see innovation it is often “obvious”, but when the iPhone came out it was different than anything else out there and many said it would fail.

    As Jobs once quoted, “good artists borrow; great artists steal”.

    Yes, and Roy repeatedly takes that quote out of context. Here is where I show Jobs saying something like that in context: http://trw.gallopinginsanity.com/2011/09/08/apple

    The idea is about getting ideas from all over the place to make something innovative and unique. Not about plagiarizing your competitors.

    Nobody covering this issue has drawn my attention to any single idea that Google copied from Apple (and frequently the idea didn’t even originate with Apple, e.g.a grid layout for apps, pinch to zoom) that I find offensive or over the line.

    Look at Android before and after the iPhone. Look at smart phones before and after the iPhone.

    Guess we’ll agree to disagree on that point since you’ve clearly stated that Google has crossed some sort of line in terms of their copying.

    With Samsung the question is settled as far as I am concerned – there is simple *no* counter evidence. I do not know Android well enough to say the case is as strong there, but it seems fairly solid. The examples of Android I have seen pre-iPhone are so amazingly different than the ones that are shown after the iPhone, and the changes are so iPhone-like that it is hard to think it is anything but plagiarism, but I am open to you (or others) showing me counter examples. Heck, even with Samsung, where the evidence is so powerful, I am open to being shown counter-evidence. Just on that one I have been showing the smoking gun links for long enough and been looking for counters and asking others who disagree with me to look as well… and *nothing* seems to exist to counter the evidence.

    In either case, though (Samsung or Google), I will accept what the evidence shows… to not do so would be unfair.

    phaim Reply:

    Heh, you really want the last word on this. I have just a few small responses to make. I could respond to more but I don’t want to turn this into a legal brief

    Plagiarism is generally defined as impermissably copying something that is literary without crediting the author. I’m not sure where you’re getting your definition from but it’s not appropriately used outside of a literary context. That’s why you generally hear it being used in the context of copying at schools. And that’s why I said the word could only be appropriately used ‘maybe’ in regards to code. Keep using the word if you want to but I just thought I’d let you know what’s the correct usage.

    I conclude that all versions of Android are not inappropriate over-the-top copying of Apple based on the evidence of my own experience with Android and iOS (having owned devices running both). Android is actually very differently organized from iOS and the user experience is very different. I realize that Samsung’s Touchwiz skin closely resembled the grid interface of iOS but as I mentioned above, it’s already been done numerous times before Apple (e.g. Palm, most feature phones, etc) so I think it’s ok to copy. Not to mention, it’s just a skin that demonstrates how Android can be customized to look like anything you want basically. And while I agree that Google was quick to move the very first builds of Android away from a more Blackberry style OS towards a more iOS style, I think that’s just a natural outcome of the realization that Apple forced on the industry which was that the future was in touch interfaces with big buttons. Everything else just follows logically from that.

    Also, I think the general trend of minimal aesthetics and slimming down their phones is ok to copy because it’s an industry-wide trend that Apple is, I’m sure you’ll agree, the trend-setter in. But again, they’re not being original in this regard. I liken it to the top fashion designer dictating to the rest of the industry what’s going to be in fashion during a particular season.

    Michael Reply:

    Plagiarism is generally defined as impermissably copying something that is literary without crediting the author. I’m not sure where you’re getting your definition from but it’s not appropriately used outside of a literary context.

    I told you where I got that definition. http://goo.gl/vQJvB

    But we can look elsewhere:

    http://www.vocabulary.com/definition/plagiarism

    When you rip off someone else’s ideas or work and pretend it’s your own, that’s plagiarism.
    There’s a fine line between borrowing and stealing — between plagiarism and theft — and it’s often open to debate what actually constitutes an outright taking of someone’s material. As Einstein once said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” From the Latin word for “kidnapped,” when you plagiarize, you are being an intellectual thief, kidnapping someone else’s ideas or words for your own purposes.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/plagiarism

    The act of plagiarizing: the copying of another person’s ideas, text or other creative work, and presenting it as one’s own, especially without permission.

    On and on and on. Check out here: http://onelook.com/?w=plagiarism

    Looking at the first 10 or so definitions I do not see it being limited to literary work.

    In other words, plagiarism is the correct word. Apple is alleging plagiarism and, with Samsung, the case is rock solid from what I can tell. With Android is seems strong but I would have to look into that more.

    That’s why you generally hear it being used in the context of copying at schools. And that’s why I said the word could only be appropriately used ‘maybe’ in regards to code. Keep using the word if you want to but I just thought I’d let you know what’s the correct usage.

    Do you see your error now?

    I conclude that all versions of Android are not inappropriate over-the-top copying of Apple based on the evidence of my own experience with Android and iOS (having owned devices running both). Android is actually very differently organized from iOS and the user experience is very different.

    Can you expand on this. How are they different? Can you point to evidence? I would be very interested in that.

    I realize that Samsung’s Touchwiz skin closely resembled the grid interface of iOS but as I mentioned above, it’s already been done numerous times before Apple (e.g. Palm, most feature phones, etc) so I think it’s ok to copy. Not to mention, it’s just a skin that demonstrates how Android can be customized to look like anything you want basically. And while I agree that Google was quick to move the very first builds of Android away from a more Blackberry style OS towards a more iOS style, I think that’s just a natural outcome of the realization that Apple forced on the industry which was that the future was in touch interfaces with big buttons. Everything else just follows logically from that.

    It is “logical” and obvious once you know the answer. This is the case with almost all innovation. With Samsung, look at their devices:

    http://i.imgur.com/TmUj2.jpg
    http://goo.gl/S2AJR
    http://goo.gl/bWDs6
    http://goo.gl/NjrfV

    Pretty rock solid.

    Also, I think the general trend of minimal aesthetics and slimming down their phones is ok to copy because it’s an industry-wide trend that Apple is, I’m sure you’ll agree, the trend-setter in. But again, they’re not being original in this regard. I liken it to the top fashion designer dictating to the rest of the industry what’s going to be in fashion during a particular season.

    Sounds like you think Google and others are being inspired by Apple but not crossing a line. That may or may not be the case, but clearly Apple sees it differently. And they *reacted* to the actions of others.

    And then Roy deems them the one who started things.

    Silly.

    Now it might make sense to say they over-reacted or reacted poorly – but that case has not been made.

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