Who Cares if Samsung Copied Apple?

Who Cares if Samsung Copied Apple?

James Allworth of Harvard Business Review, raising some fantastic points in his rather boldly-titled article about the Samsung-Apple trials:

Too often, it seems that companies fall back on the broken patent system when they can’t compete in the marketplace.

If Apple ends up winning this case against Samsung — and either stops Samsung from releasing their phones and tablets to the market, or charges them a hefty license fee to do so — does anyone really believe that the market will suddenly become more innovative, or that devices will suddenly become more affordable? Similarly, if Samsung wins, do you really believe that Apple will suddenly slow its aggressive development of the iPhone and iPad? It’s certainly not what happened last time they lost one of these cases.

I disagree that Apple wasn’t harmed in this at all – looking at some of the devices Samsung released, it’s fairly obvious that they were copying the iPhone. Of course, that isn’t entirely bad: as MG Siegler writes over at parislemon, it may have had a roundabout way of benefiting Apple.

But almost inadvertently, the author brings up something interesting. Samsung’s copying may have forced Apple to innovate at a pace greater than they may have otherwise. Apple has little competition in terms of quality products on the market — the best are the ones by Samsung which are similar to Apple products. In other words, Apple may be indirectly bolstering its own rival — they’re running from their own shadow. And if they weren’t, they might grow complacent. And innovation would slow.

It is, as Siegler notes, a stretch – but a logical one. If anything, the Samsung-Apple trials have proven just how much copying goes on between competitors. They really should just settle.

Post a response / What do you think?