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Apple of Consumer’s Eyes

November 19, 2012

Published here on August 28, 2012

Apple has quite the audacity. But I guess when you’re the most highly valued public company, this trait is a necessary part of your anatomy.

When I read the results of Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung, I was somewhat floored over the things Apple was actually concerned with. According to the New York Times, Samsung was forced to shell out $1 billion because its Galaxy S II “looked like the iPhone too much.” Can one get more vague?

Sure, Apple listed more specific beefs with the Korean company, such as stealing their “rubberbanding” action. And sure, the Galaxy S II does heavily resemble the aesthetics of the iPhone. But these are trivial details. Florian Mueller, a patent analyst, declared in her blog, FOSS Patents, “There [was] no single killer patent in this lawsuit.”

So should Apple be this guarded with their technology? Are they right to stress over all the tiny details, keeping every single piece of code under lock and key?

I think so.

The basis of all U.S. patent law is actually in the Constitution. It says right in there Congress has the power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” That’s the point of patents: to encourage innovation.

Preventing simple reproduction of products with different logos breeds competition for consumers, and that competition is the push for businesses to get creative. If a strip club in Tampa has the foresight to hire a large-breasted Sarah Palin look-a-like, then I have no issue with their monopolization of Republican National Convention attendees. That was simply genius.

After Friday’s verdict, Samsung released a statement stating, “Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer.” Well, not really. If the American consumer wanted rectangles with rounded edges then they could just buy an iPhone. If anything, the American consumer has won as well since Samsung now has to invent something entirely different. Look at that—innovation.

If you haven’t guessed yet, yes, I am a capitalist. But before you cry, “meat-packers,” at me and tell me to read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, realize Apple is not trying to bleed Samsung dry of profit. The very characteristic of stressing over all the tiny details is what made Apple so great. We’ve all heard of Steve Jobs and his demands for absolute perfection in Apple’s products. It was no on-the-fly decision to make the iPhone a rectangle with rounded corners; that was a meticulously thought-out design. Apple has every right to protect that.

I respect Apple and its big cojones. If someone took this article and published it as their own, I would get a little ruthless too. And who knows? Maybe Apple did a huge favor for Samsung. By preventing it from imitating an iPhone, Apple may have just spurred the conception of the next big thing.

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