I would argue that these days products can be differentiated by look and feel using design and utility patents and "trade dress." Apple has certainly mounted a compelling case with this ammo.
I agree this is very different from the kind of fundamental technology EEs are used to associating with patents. However, that doesn't mean the Apple approach is not valid.
Apple (Jobs) always focused on the customer needs and experience, adding quite a dash of style. Most firms just solder up a box of chips and throw the user a manual. Inventing a wheel isn't terribly useful without an axle ... then a horse ... then a buggy ... OK, now an engine ... then a gas station ... hey let's open a shop to fix those cars ...
I'm not a patent person nor a lawyer, but there's no questioning Apple's success. (And I own more Samsung products than Apple)
Samsung is clearly showing lack of innovation, they must get out there and find ideas that are radically distinct, we sitting with big tech companies that keep on recycling ideas, apple broke this infinite loop by coming up with fresh ideas.
I don't know that I've ever worked at a company that didn't study competitors' products. We always did competitive analyses. We always benchmarked. Granted I haven't seen all of the memos in question, but I certainly didn't see anything in the ones that I have read that wouldn't be considered pretty standard business practice.
There are 5 more sides to a phone, did Samsung really copy it all? What about the USB, the big button on the front characteristic of all iPhones and iPads, the removable cover, battery, camera, speaker, volume control, the UI? You can't pick and choose what you decide to define as a copy, it is either a copy or it is just similar.
As Jantanring noted above, this document only shows Samsung carefully explored every aspect of the iPhone and wanted to emulate it.
Apple still has to connect the dots to show these changes made their way into Samsung products and these approaches were covered in its patents and trade dress. Apple has already done some of that work in court so far, but it has presented less than half its case to date.
For its part, Samsung has raised some significant doubts about whether the Apple patents should be considered valid and whether any real damage has been done because--for instance--Apple has so far shown only a little evidence buyers purchased Samsung products thinking they were from Apple.
Testimony resumes Friday.
”Is this evidence of illegal copying”
No. Neither ”illegal” nor ”copying”.
”Copying”: What we see here is Samsung designers recommending copying Iphone features. We don't see evidence of any of these 126 features ever actually being copied.
Maybe that eventually happened. It would make total sense if Apple presented evidence tomorrow that confirmed that som of these features were actually copied.
”Illegal”: even if Samsung copied all of these features, that might not have been against californian law.
I hope for Samsung's customers sake that they did copy them all. From the list it is obvious that the Samsung smartphones of the time sucked big time. That's what the list proves: that Samsung phones sucked and that Iphones totally did not suck and that Samsung knew it and wanted what Apple had.
When school students are taught and told not to copy answers to assignment questions from the internet, when Ph.D students are told plagiarism of contents from other's theses means losing their Ph.D or their post (it happened in Germany) shoud not the society tell the companies that steal from other's that they stand to lose as well. I am sure all companies have tear down departments and analysing each other features. But the point of it is to learn, appreciate and be motivated to be more innovative and competitive than other's. I believe Steve Jobs/Apple has also adopted other's inventions ( Steve Wozniak, Xerox and other's) but I believe he bought the rights to commercialize them and has used his genius in in creating terrific user interfaces around them. Has Samsung done that. The answer is no.Have they copied Apple's patents. Yes. The case could be interpreted as being about patents of rectangles, but when it comes to the claims and the combination of thereof, I believe Apple can still claim uniqueness.