Remember the tech trial of the century last year where Apple prevailed over Samsung, proving the Korean company copied like there was no tomorrow? Well, it's happening again. This time, it is over a different set of phones and a different set of issues. Even so, it looks and feels very much the same. Last year, there was a damning set of Copy Cat documents showing in detail, exactly how Samsung copied the iPhone feature after feature to make their phones look and feel more like the iPhone. This is what probably caused the jury to rule in Apple's favor so overwhelmingly. Well in round two, there is another set of Copy Cat documents that are even more damning. Here's the scoop from Appleinsider:

Apple unlocks new Copy Cat docs as evidence Samsung pilfered iPhone unlock

Just like Samsung's original recipe for copying Apple's work for its Galaxy S, the latest copy docs to surface in the trial reveal that Samsung didn't lack its own ideas; the company was just convinced that its own ideas weren't as good as Apple's, a finding echoed by its own market research and its competitive sales.The latest copy docs to surface in the trial reveal that Samsung didn't lack its own ideas; the company was just convinced that its own ideas weren't as good as Apple's.

When Steve Jobs demonstrated Slide to Unlock in 2007, the feature generated applause from the audience because it was a new concept, executed in an aesthetically pleasing and intuitive way, based on years of research and development. 

Two and a half years later, Samsung was internally discussing what it could learn from the feature in its own products, and embarked upon an incremental copying program that stole the feature entirely over just a few months.

The article goes on to show the details of how Samsung systematically copied Apple's patented implementation of slide to unlock. The court documents are unambiguous and entirely damning. Like last year, the trial could probably stop at this point as there is nothing Samsung can say or do that could minimize the effect of their own documentation. Like last year, the argument transitions from, did Samsung copy Apple, to, so what if they copied Apple.

The idea of intellectual property is taking a beating. Let's face it; the vast majority of people in the world are not terribly creative. They know nothing of the creative process, and what it takes to transform an idea into a product others can use. They believe that ideas grow on trees, and that the fruits of those trees should be freely available to all. No one should be able to profit from an idea, or withhold it from another person who wants it. 

They believe that nothing is created, merely discovered. A unique piece of software is just the discovery of an interesting arrangement of 1s and 0s. you can't paten 1s and 0s. You can only discover virtuous arrangements. Shapes, ratios, and materials are also given the reductionist treatment. They say, you can't paten rounded corners, a glass back, or chamfered edges. This reduces an invention to its constituent elements without regard to the overall arrangement or application of those elements. 

As a musician and songwriter, I can tell you that it is definitely possible to copyright a song. Yet, it is impossible to copyright a musical note or word. There are only 12 possible musical notes. Words are made up of 26 letters of the alphabet plus a handful of symbols. Not only can I not copyright a musical note or word, I cannot copyright any 10 notes or words. Yet, somehow, I can copyright a song. My song might even be derivative of prior art. The derivative nature of music does not make it unoriginal. That is an even harder concept to grasp. 

Samsung's defense is that Apple's song is just a bunch of derivative notes and phrases strung together. The individual notes and phrases are not patentable. Sure, they copied the slide to unlock phrase, and the ruberbanding phrase, and the other bridges and hooks Apple wrote. Sure, they strung them together in the same way, with small differences for flavor. But none of those things by themselves are patentable. That is Samsung's argument.

Understand, this is a completely disingenuous argument that should be given no merit whatsoever. Consider Samsung's own patents and trademarks. They also patent lines of code, shapes, methods, and arrangements. Their logo is trademarked. What part of their logo is trademarkable? Samsung can easily be someone's name. Might it be the shape of the first letter? A line? A curve? A ratio? The size of the font? The color? None of that is trademarkable. But all of it together is. They are well aware of that. Which is why such an argument is just a lie to deceive the unwitting masses who know nothing of the creative process. 

Negotiating with thieves

Many times, the courts have ordered Apple and Samsung to come to the table and negotiate a licensing agreement that will put an end to the legal proceedings. Many times, they have done so. I can only imagine that Apple finds these forced negotiations even more offensive than I do. There can be no legitimate negotiation with thieves. The courts, however, would much rather avoid doing their job. Here is an illustration of what I mean:

Imagine you have just been robbed. Your original Rembrandt was stolen from your pretentious drawing room. Making no effort to hide his identity, the thief hangs it in his own pretentious drawing room, therefore becoming the new socialite flavor of the day. You call the police and report the theft. The police investigate, agree with the facts of the case, and demand that you negotiate a settlement with the art thief. You have to decide how much he should pay to keep the painting. You make it clear that you don't want him to keep the painting. You want to get the painting back. The thief should no longer have the painting.

The police say that is not reasonable, and that you are to go back to the negotiating table and come up with a reasonable fee. Frustrated, you demand an extremely high price. The thief complains that the fee is too high, and the police demand that you continue negotiating. Behind the scenes, that is what is going on in the Apple vs. Samsung case. Apple has reported a robbery, the facts of which are undisputed. The courts demand that Apple negotiates a settlement that allows Samsung to keep what they have stolen. It is little wonder that Apple cannot negotiate a licensing agreement in good faith. Any licensing agreement validates the theft.

This is Samsung's business model. Samsung just keeps stealing from Apple, while the courts keep demanding that Apple license out what has already been stolen. Naturally, Apple is furious. Samsung fans, and by extension, Google fans do not understand why Apple should have any proprietary rights over any of their inventions/discoveries, especially if those discoveries would be beneficial to everyone if made freely available. Samsung/Google looks like Robin Hood: stealing from the rich and redistributing it to the poor. 

Unfortunately for Apple, this is how the courts seem to think as well. While the jurors hear the facts and easily conclude that Samsung is a company of thieves who wantonly stole Apple's patented inventions, the courts are hesitant to see any penalty applied to the theft. Apple will never see a penny of the judgement in their favor. Though proven to be stolen property, Samsung's products will never see a day when they are not sold in stores. It is next to impossible to get a product ban that sticks, even on products proven to be stolen. Apple can overwhelmingly win the case and a large judgement just as they did the last time. But they will never see a dime of it, nor will Samsung ever be forced to quit stealing. In light of this reality, covering the details of this patent case hardly matters.

David Johnson

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