"then you might as well patent the light switch"
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of patents on the light switch. The more basic ones have surely expired by now.
"Designs are copied and improved upon each and every day"
Legally copying a design requires permission from the patent holder. Toyota pays the original hybrid designer royalties. Other car manufacturers have paid Toyota license fees for using portions of their innovations.
folks, here is what many people believe apple copied for their iphone.. LG prada phone.. this came out even before those look and feel patent.. US court for some reason refused to review this phone as prior art, as the phone was not accused by apple.. see and decide for yourself..
@Geoff Thomas: I agree with the principals of your statement about the individual patentee. Find me a dozen of those and you can find hundreds of large corporate entities to match.
Although I would love for there to be different rules for the individual patentee I know that there would be a thousand lawyers pitted to find a way that GE, IBM, Apple, ... can be classified as such. So, one set of rules that address the current (mis)use case trends needs to be instituted. The current US department of monopoly (PTO) rules are inadequate for progressive and constructive purposes. Revision is needed.
Differing categories of patents may work since a lot of production process such as automotive can take 3 and more years. But, Apple will become a car company when we do that. Then we will see padded roundish rods applied toward directional control being patented by them.
My feeling is that many of the commentators on this topic do not realise the impact of their criticisms against patenting.
If you are a person, (not a huge multinational) and you have a new idea, the only way you can be rewarded for your creative ability is to patent the idea, otherwise the instant your hard work and often extensive and expensive development is produced it will be snapped up and mass produced by a big company, so you lose your shirt and nobody bothers to develop new ideas anymore.
Patents should be cheaper and easier, not so difficult that only the already very rich can have them, that would truly stifle new thought.
Also the whole thing of thought is that it is communicable, so once someone has it, it is obvious to all, but that does not imply that anyone else would have had it other than the person, with his own unique personality and experience, who actually had that thought.
The Wisdom of Hindsight does not discover the wisdom that it has the hindsight about.
Great comments here. This case (and the great reporting by Rick Merritt) have clearly touched a nerve. It's interesting that there seem to be such a wide range of opinions on this issue represented in the forum.
@rwik78: Look at all things rectangular or even round or triangular or ... Look at almost all radios from their first models up to the digital controls. Look at laptops. Look at toilets. Look at pipes and hoses.
Similarity amongst all these things was resultant of obvious application/use. RCA did not litigate Sylvania because they had 3 knobs and a dial because these were the obvious controls needed to operate a radio receiver.
"Pinch-to-Zoom/Shrink" existed on Sci-Fi shows before Apple patented it. I think this was an obvious solution that some person in the production put into a display.
What on earth were they trying to prove? Phones arent jewellery, they are phones....
Did they have any 3rd manufacturer phones in there to make sure they werent seeing what they expected to see?
This could be grounds for a mistrial....
My "few" cents:
1) The "ideal" way for Apple would be to license the pinch to zoom and scroll features rather than trying to protect them by lawsuits. Not just Samsung, but other manufacturers as well. These are innovations in the true sense, but like all the best ideas, once out there they seem so obvious everyone wants to do it.
2) As for rounded edge rectangle and icon colours, its just plain silly.
3) Galaxy S may have looked like the iphone, but look at S3 today. If anything, iphone5 may struggle to look like S3. Would they pay Samsung royalty if they choose to move to a larger/wider screen?
4) Last but not the least, I adore Apple. I do. But calling a company (a partner at that) a thief in internal mails or press releases speaks of low standard. What of he Note? Did Apple find a way to call it a stolen product? Or low end feature phones that Apple doesnt bother making?