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Apple expert claims iPhone and iPad designs aren't primarily functional

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 06 Dec 2011 16:22 User comments (9)

Apple expert claims iPhone and iPad designs aren't primarily functional An Apple filing in their US lawsuit against Samsung for allegedly copying protected design elements of the iPhone and iPad has been released.
As with their other design claims around the world, it basically comes down to the argument that generic and functional are actually unique and purely aesthetic. The document is a redacted version of a declaration from industrial designer Cooper C Woodring in which he makes a number of astonishing claims about what Samsung should do to avoid infringing on Apple's intellectual property.

Even as he argues that the design elements of both iDevices are purely aesthetic, he suggests changes for Samsung which would make their phones and tablets decidedly less functional.

Let's look at a few of them. First, he argues, Samsung could make the area around the display raised, rather than flush with the display. Of course that ignores the fact that it would make it nearly impossible to swipe all the way to the edge of the display.

He also says they could make the devices less rectangular. In fact it's arguable the shape of the iPhone, which is significantly wider than the display, is purely functional because the extra length is needed to make it usable as a phone.

At the same time, the design of Samsung phones is equally functional. Since their displays are significantly wider (in landscape mode) than the iPhone, expanding the chassis in the same way would make them too big. And, of course, it would provide a different feature for Apple to claim was too close to the iPhone.

For tablets this claim simply falls flat. Samsung tablets are so different in shape from the iPad, Apple decided to alter a picture of one in a European filing to make them look more similar.

He also suggests the display does not need to be centered on phone, and perhaps for the iPhone with its smaller display, that's true. For Samsung phones that would once again make them less functional. No surprise Apple would be arguing in favor of that.

Woodring also says Samsung could make the display itself less rectangular. But that suggests Samsung's displays have essentially the same aspect ratio as Apple's. In fact that's not true at all. Samsung displays are significantly wider (in landscape mode) than Apple's, both for phones and tablets. If narrower displays are different enough, why aren't wider displays?

The answer seems pretty clear. Wider displays make their phones more desirable, while narrower displays would make them significantly less useful in nearly every conceivable way.

There are other suggestions, which you can read for yourself in the filing below. While Woodring claims the Apple design elements are not designed for functionality, the changes he claims would be required to avoid infringing would almost all make Samsung phones less functional.

Maybe Samsung's best defense against these claims would be to create a prototype implementing his suggestions to show just how ridiculous they really are.

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9 user comments

16.12.2011 19:47

I think this whole lawsuit is silly. Apple is threatened. Sure they look similar but not identical. Apple did not invent the screen flush with the casing and they did not invent the rectangular shape with rounded corners. Of course Apple probably thinks it invented the black color too.


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26.12.2011 20:24

Originally posted by bobiroc:
I think this whole lawsuit is silly. Apple is threatened. Sure they look similar but not identical. Apple did not invent the screen flush with the casing and they did not invent the rectangular shape with rounded corners. Of course Apple probably thinks it invented the black color too.
They pioneered white electronics.

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36.12.2011 23:13

Apple finally admits it...their devices are not functional!

I would love to see their prototype demonstrating these ideas...an octagonal screen, raised edges, lots of wasted space all around the screen, except for on one side so the screen wouldn't be centered.



47.12.2011 5:27

Originally posted by Morreale:
Originally posted by bobiroc:
I think this whole lawsuit is silly. Apple is threatened. Sure they look similar but not identical. Apple did not invent the screen flush with the casing and they did not invent the rectangular shape with rounded corners. Of course Apple probably thinks it invented the black color too.
They pioneered white electronics.
What!?

Japan has had white PS1 and PS2.

You'd have white headphones etc back in the 70's

Apple wouldn't have made anything white before anyone else.

57.12.2011 7:41

Originally posted by xtago:
Originally posted by morreale:
They pioneered white electronics.

What!?

Japan has had white PS1 and PS2.

You'd have white headphones etc back in the 70's

Apple wouldn't have made anything white before anyone else.


What about refrigerators, washing machines... They are also electronic devices which were available in white way before Apple was born.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 07 Dec 2011 @ 7:42

"You know, it seems that quotes on the internet are becoming less and less reliable." -Abraham Lincoln.

67.12.2011 8:03

I think that the current apple sue the world mantra is a great example of why the patent system needs to be revised for the good of man kind.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 07 Dec 2011 @ 8:11

77.12.2011 8:10

(for the good of man kind) and you are absolutely right, they do have to revise the patent system. However the issue isn't so much with that as it is everyone having the right to sue and wasting the courts time. This shouldn't even have made it to the judge, it should not qualify to even be heard. Our tax $ at work, for something as stupid as this.

87.12.2011 8:21

Its also makes it virtually impossible for smaller companies who are more likely to bring something innovative to the table to make it to market with said product. This is when you have the likes of apple and other who will sue to living sxxt out of anyone they see as a threat to their position in the market place (regardless of infringement or not). And as well know if you can afford the $$$ for the legal fees, manipulating the copyright and patent system to your own financial end appears to be the way to get even richer.

97.12.2011 9:59

That is, patents are stopping progress.


"You know, it seems that quotes on the internet are becoming less and less reliable." -Abraham Lincoln.

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