Studying the Competition

The first week of the Apple vs Samsung trial ended Friday over Apple’s allegations of “patent infringement” against Samsung.  Apple says Samsung stole their iPhone designs.

eWeek reports:

An Apple attorney showed Denison (chief strategy officer for Samsung’s mobile business) an internal Samsung document titled “Galaxy S1 v. iPhone” from March of 2010, when Samsung was developing a smartphone to rival the iPhone, which was first introduced in 2007. While acknowledging that the report was a detailed comparison of the two products, he said it was not about copying features of the iPhone in the Galaxy S.

Earlier in the day, Scott Forstall, the Apple senior VP in charge of the iOS software for iPads and iPhones, testified that Apple, too, did “tear-downs” of competitors products, including the Samsung Galaxy S, but that’s done to benchmark the designs of rivals, not copy them, which is what Apple accuses Samsung of doing.

I have to admit, the distinction doesn’t click for me.  Why would a company “benchmark the designs of rivals” if not to copy or improve upon them?  And is that truly a bad thing?

This lawsuit obviously has major implications for developers.  Would this mean “best practices” and learning from competitors could be outlawed?  In some ways it protects our hard work.  But in many ways it would stifle growth and progress.

Time will tell

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