The article Apple vs. Samsung: Is copying theft or innovation? is an op-ed that was written by Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman and published by the Los Angeles Times on 4 September 2012. It addresses the issues surrounding the legal battles between Samsung Corporation and Apple Inc. over allegations of patent infringement on the side of Samsung Corporation. The key issue in this article regards the line between theft and innovation. The authors try to establish whether there can be a balance between competition and copying, where competitors develop products that bear some similarities but without actually copying rivals’ designs or technology (Raustiala and Sprigman 1).
Raustiala and Sprigman start by providing a brief background to the Samsung vs. Apple legal battles. In the case, Apple was the claimant and Samsung was the defendant. The claimants had accused the defendants of infringing on their patents in the designs of some of their products. The settlement of the case saw a San Jose jury award Apple Inc. just over a billion dollars in damages. What was special about this case was that Apple had accused Samsung of stealing the rectangular design used in their devices (Raustiala and Sprigman 1). Raustiala and Sprigman note that there are similar devices that are rectangular such as Amazon’s Kindle (1). This raises a key issue regarding competition and copying as the authors try to establish whether there is a line between the two concepts.
The key argument that Raustiala and Sprigman make is that copying and imitation are important precursors to creativity (1). Most industries have copyrights and patents that protect the intellectual works of innovators. Laws such as these help to protect companies from unfair competition, such as that which Apple accuses Samsung of carrying out. However, Raustiala and Sprigman claim that allowing people to copy can help people come up with new inventions (1). They use the example of the culinary industries where recipes that chefs develop are freely available for use by other parties without any legal impediments. In conclusion, Raustiala and Sprigman note that the freedom to imitate other items is what allowed Apple to grow into the giant that it is today (2).
The key concept that this article entailed was that of copyright and patent laws. The central issue in the article is the legal between Samsung Corporation and Apple Inc. Both companies are struggling to gain dominance of the smartphone industry and this struggle recently spilled into the courtroom. The accusations made by Apple Inc. related to patent laws because the company claimed that the designs of several devices that Samsung were about to release, infringed on design patents that Apple owned. Copyright and patent laws exist to protect intellectual property from theft and this case exemplified that application.
This article also addresses the issue of lawsuits, albeit in brief. The legal suit that Apple Inc. filed against Samsung Corporation was the key background issue in the article. The case showed the way business firms can now use the courts as weapons against the competition. Apple felt that Samsung’s new products were going to provide stiff competition for their own and so they tried to have them kept off the shops. Additionally, the billion-dollar settlement was bound to have been a big blow to Samsung’s operations and business plans. Lastly, the case shows how important it is for a company to have a good legal team. The fact that Apple won damages simply because Samsung stole the shape of their devices exemplifies this issue.
Raustiala, Kal and Christopher Sprigman. “Apple vs. Samsung: Is copying theft or innovation?” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 04 Sept. 2012. Web. 22. Nov. 2013
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