Apple's Lawsuit Against Samsung Is a Bad Idea

It's counterproductive, hypocritical and unlikely to succeed

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Apple is suing Samsung for copying the "look and feel" of its hugely popular iPhone and iPad devices. By any stretch of the imagination, Apple's lawyers are correct: Samsung's Galaxy smartphones are a blatant ripoff of the iPhone. Still, suing the Korean electronics giant, which just so happens to make the microchips in some of Apple products, is not a good idea. Here's why:

The threat of a counter-suit  Samsung has already threatened to fire back with "appropriate legal measures" to protect its own "intellectual property." That statement was no empty threat. "The conglomerate is huge," explains Christian Zibreg at 9to5 Mac. "Samsung manufactures everything from displays, NAND flash memory, processors and what not. This gives them a significant advantage in that their counter-lawsuit can spawn any or all of the above technologies."

It's counterproductive Apple has long been a company that focuses on innovation, not litigation. But the Samsung suit and last year's suit with HTC are starting to show a different side of the company. "Why can't Apple just focus on competing ... rather than worrying about what competitors are doing?" writes Mike Masnick at TechDirt. At the same time the likelihood of winning such a suit are slim. "Here's the problem," writes Business Insider's Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. "It's not clear that anyone has ever won a 'look and feel lawsuit. (The legal term is 'trade dress.')"

It's hypocritical If Steve Jobs can't be persuaded by strategic considerations, how about ethical ones? This is a video of Steve Jobs from 1996 explaining how his company has "always been shameless about stealing great ideas." The line has been attributed to Apple's "borrowing" of Xerox's graphical user interface. He borrows the famous Picasso line "good artists copy, great artists steal."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.