Apple v. Samsung: “Look and feel” redux? Not quite.


Written by Brandon Baum , of baum legal and Practice Center Contributor.

It is part of the IP zeitgeist that Apple sued Microsoft for copying Apple’s “look and feel” in Windows 3.0 and lost. That is not really the case, as the issues were more complicated and nuanced than that. But that story is for another post.

Some have asked whether Apple is again asserting its failed “look and feel” argument against Samsung in its recently filed lawsuit. Let’s have a look.

Apple does claim that Samsung’s Galaxy S i9000 smartphone copies the “trade dress” of the iPhone 3G. (See excerpt of complaint below).









Does that mean Apple is back to its failed “look and feel” argument? Yes and no. Yes, Apple alleges copying of its trade dress (i.e., “look and feel”). But this time, Apple is loaded for bear.

Unlike the earlier Microsoft case, where Apple relied on solely copyright protection for its GUI, and where Apple had licensed Microsoft’s Windows 1.0 and certain derivatives thereof, here Apple has protected its intellectual property with a combination of design patents and trademarks. (See below).






















Apparently, Apple learned from its experience in the Microsoft case that copyright protection is not enough. And just in case Samsung was thinking it might be able to beat back Apple’s “look and feel” arguments as Microsoft did so many years ago, Apple has also asserted 7 utility patents:










In other words, Apple has protected itself with belt and suspenders, and belt.




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