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Print 53 comment(s) - last by darkhawk1980.. on Aug 16 at 7:39 AM

Thou shalt not clone, says the legalese

It's common knowledge that when Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) briefly stepped in to save the train wreck that was Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in the mid-nineties, the pair cemented their bond with a deep cross-licensing pact which has been responsible for the relative peace between the pair in these hyper-litigious times.  During the copyright infringement trial being held at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California between Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and Apple, that licensing relationship was the topic of some questions, questions that raised interesting details.

Apple patent licensing/strategy director Boris Teksler is quoted by The Verge as testifying, "The Apple and Microsoft cross-license does cover the design patents. However, we took special prohibitions from both parties so there is what I term an 'anti-cloning' provision... so we couldn't copy each other's products. There's a clear acknowledgement that there's no copying."

The cross-licensing agreement covered both design (aesthetics) and utility (technology) patents worldwide.

As The Verge has a copy [PDF] of that 1997 arrangement it then highlighted the passage that Mr. Teksler was talking about:

clone product

In other words, Apple and Microsoft won't sue each other for individual features (e.g. swipe to unlockdisappearing scrollers, or bounce animations) or minor design details (e.g. a rectangular smartphone), but if either company feels the other is "slavishly copying" the entire comprehensive product, they could -- in theory, at least -- sue the other.

Is this interesting?  Certainly.

How does it affect the Samsung v. Apple case?  That is unclear.  Apple clearly claims that Samsung "cloned" its products.  
 
Apple iPhone
Apple claims Samsung "slavishly copied" its products. [Source: David Paul Morris/Getty Images]
 
But ultimately this testimony could be used against Apple if Samsung can establish that its smartphones/tablets are as different from the iPhone/iPad in design and user interface as Windows Phone 7 handsets and Windows tablets are from the iPhone/iPad.  Because if the level of differences is similar, and it was enough to constitute "slavishly copying"/cloning, the question would be why Apple isn't suing Microsoft as well.

Source: The Verge



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Tony Swash on 8/14/2012 7:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you think that Apple copied Xerox or not?


No. Apple did not copy Xerox.

Read " Dealers in Lightening: Xerox Parc and the dawn of the computer age" by Michael Hiltzik

quote:
Do you think that Apple has a history of copying other companies' products or not?


No. I cannot think of a single product that Apple has produced since Steve Jobs returned in 1997 that was a copy of another company's product. Some of the ugly beige boxes from Apple back in Apple's dark ages in the early 1990s looked like the best of the PC beige boxes.

quote:
"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

Steve Jobs, 'Triumph of the Nerds', PBS, 1996.


In response to the question "But how do you know what's the right direction?" Steve Jobs said:

"Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you are doing.

Picasso had a saying. He said good artists copy great artists steal. We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas. I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists, and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. But if it hadn't been for computer science these people would have all been doing amazing things in life in other fields. And they brought with them to this effort [the Macintosh project] a very liberal arts attitude that we wanted to pull in the best we saw in these other fields into this field. I don't think you get that if you are very narrow."


So the oft used quote is about about bringing parts of other disciplines, from literature, art and culture, into computer science and product design.

What would, to use Jobs term, being very narrow mean in practice? Well it could mean endlessly dredging up a sentence from a Steve Jobs interview in 1995, taking it out of context, fetishising it, implying it is about one thing when it is about another, and then using it to prop up a delusional world view and a deliberately fallacious argument in defence of crass product cloners. That sort sort obtuse and pedantic behaviour leaves people without a shred of intellectual dignity and should be avoided like the plague.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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