Analysis: Samsung "Copies" Apple's Launcher? A Dubious Claim at Best
August 28, 2012 4:34 PM
comment(s) - last by
Apple was hardly the first to make a Dock/Launcher; if Samsung's Windows 8 launcher "stole", so did Steve Jobs
's Jesus Diaz wrote an intriguing headline "
Samsung Is Copying Apple’s Dock In Their Win 8 Machines Too: Will They Ever Learn?
" Mr. Diaz comments:
I don't know if Samsung is now just taunting Apple or if their user interface "designers" are the same lazy idiots who copied the iPhone icons. In any case, this is getting hilarious. Or pathetic. Or disgusting. Or all of the above.
The premise is admittedly amusing. Is Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) really copying a patented and trademarked technology of Apple, Inc.'s (
)? Would it be that foolish after
losing a caustic verdict
in the smartphone space for allegedly lifting Apple features?
Invented the Dock?
The answer is that it depends on your definition of "copied", and what your feelings on
a copy of a copy
are, as a brief history of the dock by
When MacOS landed in 1984 it had no Dock (Launcher). Arthur (1987) and RISC OS 2 (1989) -- operating systems from now-defunct ARM Holdings plc (
parent Acorn Computers
-- were perhaps the first to add the feature, albeit in crude VGA form:
Acorn Computers pioneered the dock. [Image Source: LunDuke]
Later in 1989, Steve Jobs (having left Apple and gone to work at NeXT) pulled a Picasso and "stole" the idea, adding a dock to his NeXTSTEP operating system:
Steve Jobs arrived late to the dock/launcher part in 1989. [Image Source: FutureTG]
OS/2 3.0 (1994) and CDE (1993) offered minor improvements to this familiar theme. But perhaps the most visually striking dock came in 2000 with AmigaOS 3.9's AmiDock, an operating system by German software firm Haage & Partner.
AmiDock was visually the most striking dock yet, made in 2000. [Image Source: LunDuke]
Lo and behold Steve Jobs -- having returned to Apple -- introduced a nearly identical dock to Amiga's in 2001 as part of the new MacOS X:
The Aqua interface (MacOS X beta "Kodiak") added a dock to Apple's operating systems at long last.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Eventually that dock would evolve visually to its current form.
OS X Mountain Lion [Image Source: Apple]
But of course, Linux docks (which trace their roots to CDE, etc.) also have been actively evolving as well. Both Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.) and Gnome Desktop have docks which rival that of OS X, and owe to their rich lineage:
Gnome Desktop (Ubuntu10.10 32-bit) [Image Source: YouTube]
II. Other Considerations : Did Samsung Infringe?
So is Samsung...
Samsung S Launcher [TechMynd]
...late to the dock party? The
piece and other similar pieces attacking Samsung do correctly point out that Apple acquired NeXTSTEP (by proxy its dock legacy and OS patent,
U.S. Patent No. 5,146,556
; filed Feb. 1991). But they seriously overlook the fact that NeXTSTEP and Steve Jobs were not the first to create the dock -- Acorn Computers was.
Now Apple does hold another broad patent --
U.S. Patent No. 7,434,177
-- on the features of OS X, including the dock. That patent was filed in Dec. 1999 and granted in 2008.
Some have interpreted
that to Apple "patenting" the dock/launcher. But in reality, it has made no effort yet to bring such enforcement and seems highly unlikely too; given the shaky historical ground it's on regarding prior art.
The Dock, as you can imagine, is patented.... Its design and functionality is credited to Bas Ording, Donald Lindsay and, drumroll, Steve Jobs.
However, the Dock is just a specific implementation detail in a broad patent regarding OS X. Apple didn't "patent the dock". It patented OS X, which includes a claim to a specific implementation of the dock. Likewise it holds a patent on NeXTSTEP's graphical user interface, and claims to a crude early Dock.
There often is a difference between a patent targeting a specific feature and a broad interface patent covering an entire system/user interface. Often the latter approach leads to a narrowing of claims. Thus this distinction should have been noted in the current coverage.
Also the patent itself contains a central claim:
1. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and for repositioning others of said plurality of tiles along said bar to accommodate the varied size of said one tile.
...which is slowly expanded upon in later claims. The core of the claim is resizing tiles and repositioning the tiles, via moving the others. The Samsung S Launcher does not appear to have either functionality.
Apple did not patent a bar with icons.
It patented specific animations of its task bar (Dock) icons. Samsung does not appear to be overstepping this by simply having a more Dock/Launcher with static icons and a transparent back because that is
not the invention claimed in the in Apple patent
And besides this and the prior art issue, Microsoft Corp. (
a broad cross-licensing pact
with Apple and tends to zealously defend its Windows OEMs. So it would likely not take kindly to Apple suing a Windows 8 device maker for a semi-similar design in a field with plentiful prior art.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: My hope and assumption
8/28/2012 8:00:25 PM
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
Doomsday for Samsung in U.S., Jury Rules it Slavishly Infringed Apple's Patents
August 24, 2012, 5:56 PM
Apple and Microsoft's Licensing Pact Spells Out Cloning Taboo
August 14, 2012, 1:24 PM
Tudor Brown Retiring After Propelling ARM to the Top of Mobile Market
November 12, 2011, 1:00 AM
Apple Barks Back Against Claims That iOS is a National Security Threat to China
July 13, 2014, 5:04 PM
Windows "Threshold" to Cater to Both Desktop, Mobile
June 30, 2014, 8:36 PM
Nintendo's Top Designer: We're Looking to Unify Mobile, Console Games
June 24, 2014, 11:48 AM
Microsoft Boosts Free OneDrive Storage to 15GB, Office 365 Users to Get 1TB
June 23, 2014, 12:06 PM
Google Wants Your Daughter to Grow up to be a Coder
June 20, 2014, 12:26 PM
Report: Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, Windows 8.1 Update 2 Near Release
June 19, 2014, 8:00 PM
Most Popular Articles
Apple's iPhone, iPad Update iOS 7.1.2 is Badly Broken for Some
July 8, 2014, 2:00 PM
Buzz Aldrin Says First Astronauts to Set Foot on Mars Should Never Return Home
July 9, 2014, 9:46 AM
Despite Legal Threats Google Begins Posting Warnings of ISP Throttling
July 7, 2014, 5:52 PM
Update: Cadillac ELR Plug-in Hybrid "Sales Fail" Continues, Dealers Offering Up to $19k Off
July 11, 2014, 3:34 PM
Your Uncharged Smartphone, Tablet May Prevent You from Boarding U.S.-bound Flights
July 6, 2014, 11:11 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information