On June 29th, 2007, Apple released the iPhone – a device that would go on to define an entire generation of consumer electronics. Three years later, on June 4th, 2010, Samsung released the Galaxy S – a device that would go on to be the cause of one of history’s most well-known corporate battles. The main crux of the issue? Well, Apple (seemingly rightly to some) stated that the Samsung Galaxy S was too similar in design to the iPhone. This, however, was just the beginning.
When Apple first got their hands on the Galaxy S, they were surprised by its striking resemblance – and perhaps also by the gall of its creators. The handset design was familiar, the operating system was similar, and even the way the interface worked was the same (for example, the rubber-band effect when screens are manipulated). Many influential people in the electronics design services industry were adamant: it couldn’t be denied that it was very reminiscent of the iPhone. Apple’s CEO at the time, Steve Jobs, was angry. Very angry.
In late 2010, a legal Team from Apple actually went to Seoul to meet with Samsung. At that meeting, Apple actually accused Samsung of copying the iPhone, in a very direct manner. Samsung didn’t take kindly to this and in fact countered with a suggestion that Apple was breaking one of Samsung’s patents somewhere along the line. In April 2011, Apple proceeded to sue Samsung. A few days later, Samsung filed a countersuit claiming that their 3G technology patents were being breached.
The lawsuits raged on until settlement talks finally took place in around April 2012. Unfortunately, even though Samsung had removed some products from the shelves, these talks failed. Surprisingly to some, in July 2012, a UK judge demanded that Apple apologise for accusing Samsung of copying the iPad design, saying it was ‘too generic’ to be copied. Perhaps they needed a better brand design agency? Apple did apologise on the website… in very small text. Since that time, there have been even more hard-fought battles, including $1 billion awarded to Apple, which was invalidated by a $450 million payout to Samsung.
So where are we today? Well, much of the dust has settled, but there is still tension between the two companies. Who will strike next is anybody’s guess…