Phil Schiller: They’re Going to Steal Our Whole Product Line
Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, took the stand on Friday for the Apple vs. Samsung trial, describing the struggles the Cupertino California company faced when developing the iPad and iPhone and how shocked he was with Samsung’s decision to copy their products. When discussing the company’s products and its past, Schiller noted how revolutionary and iconic Apple’s line of mobile products has been, referring to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod. He mentioned that the iPod had “really changed everybody’s view of Apple both inside and outside the company.”
He moved on to discuss that when the company was working to develop a tablet, it realized that it could use much of the existing work to develop a revolutionary mobile phone instead. “At the time, cellphones weren’t any good as entertainment devices,” Schiller said. Apple’s attorneys used Schiller’s points to argue that Samsung “slavishly copied” Apple’s unique designs. Schiller responded to Apple attorney Harold McElhinny’s question of how others copying effects designs Apple created by stating that it “creates a huge problem in marketing on many levels. We market our product as the hero and how distinctive it is, how consistent we’ve kept it over time. Now when someone comes up with a product that copies that design and copies that marketing, then customers can get confused on whose product is whose. […] If you steal [the iPhone’s design] you’re stealing all the value we created.”
During the cross examination, Samsung lawyer Bill Price tried to establish that the move toward a virtual on-screen keyboard simply necessitated the adoption of the basic overall design of the iPhone, and various features of the iPhone were not unprecedented. The South Korean electronics maker introduced emails noting that the LG Prada phone had a large touchscreen by 2005 and Palm’s Treo smartphones had a library of third party apps reaching 10,000 titles. Additional efforts to designate the iPhone’s design as largely functional rather than aesthetic were made. Apple’s strongest case is its design patents, which are limited to ornamental features rather than purely embodiments of function. An example of this would be the Samsung attorney trying to establish that design elements such as rounded corners were actually functional because they made it easier to put in one’s pocket.
As if this wasn’t enough the Samsung attorney also asked about what Apple would be changing in the design of the iPhone 5, a question that was simply answered with, “I’d prefer not to tell confidential information about future products.” Schiller continued by stating that when he looked at Samsung's Continuum smartphone, he felt “Samsung has ripped off a number of our design elements and in doing that may be causing confusion.” He added that Apple’s iPhone was developed to incite a “lust factor.” The examining attorney asked if Samsung’s multiple buttons inspired the same “lust,” to which Schiller responded while Samsung may be trying to be beautiful, “I don’t think they are as beautiful as the iPhone.”
The tension between the two tech giants continues to grow exponentially with no result being clear. We’ll have to wait and be patient to see what comes of the Apple vs. Samsung trial as it is considered to be one of the most important patent cases in history.