Tuesday 7 August saw the focus of the Apple v Samsung case change from the form of the iPhone, to the design of the graphical interface, with the suggestion being that the layout and icons on the Samsung phones is remarkably similar to the iPhone.
Mac iconographer Susan Kare testified that she found the icons and layout of the screens of the Galaxy S and Epic 4G to be similar to the iPhone. She claimed that she was fooled by a Samsung gadget at a pre-trial meeting, according to Reuters account of proceedings on Tuesday 7 August.
"I think of myself as someone who's pretty granular about looking at graphics, and I mistook one for the other," she said.
Kare pointed to the rounded corners of the icons, places on an evenly spaced grid, she said: "It is my opinion that the overall collection of graphic features that makes the overall visual impression could be confusing to a consumer.”
"You can do a design without having it be confusingly similar," she said.
Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven questioned Kare about her claims about the similarities between icon designs on the various devices, asking: “Have you ever seen triangular icons”.
Verhoeven also questioned Kare on whether, having gone through three steps from turning on the phone to arriving at the screen, said to minic the iPhone screen, a consumer would really be mislead into thinking it was an Apple device. Kare refused to answer as she said that she is not a consumer behaviour expert. (It should be noted that if a consumer was looking at a device in a shop and trying to make a buying decision the phone would be turned on to start with).
It’s not just the appearance of the icons that is being called into question, but the actual designs of the icons themselves.
The Next Web has a paragraph from Kare’s description of the icon used for the Photos app. In it she explains why she chose a sunflower to represent the app. “The sunflower is a non-controversial subject that is not specific, such as a photo of a particular, identifiable person or place, and the blue sky both provides contrast against black and is a general symbol of optimism.”
At issue is the fact that Samsung also picked a yellow sunflower for their Photos icon.
There are many other Samsung icons that appear remarkably similar to Apple icons, such as the green handset icon. However, in court Verhoeven questioned Kare, suggesting that: “Apple doesn’t own green for go does it?” notes Arstechnica’s report. Kare has been paid $80,000 for her work on the Apple v Samsung case.
After Kare, New York University lecturer Russell Winer took to the stand to discuss Apple’s brand as embodied in the iPhone and iPad. Winer referred to an internal Samsung document that stated: "People don't think (the industrial design) of Samsung touchphones are ground breaking. Nothing stands out as something consumers have never seen."
Samsung strategy chief Justin Denison claimed that the document was designed motivate and energize the employees.
132-page internal Samsung document
Another document was shared in court. This was a 132-page internal Samsung document from 2010 that compares the Galaxy S phone with the iPhone has been called on during the Apple v Samsung trial.
That document evaluates the two devices and comes up with recommendations about what Samsung should do. In many cases the answer is to make it more like the iPhone.
The conclusion of the document is that Samsung should give its phone a similar user interface to the iPhone.
Samsung seems to want to hide the fact that it is copying the design - the ‘Directions for Improvement’ in the case of the menu screen includes the observation: “Remove a feeling that iPhone’s menu icons are copied by differentiating design”.
Cult of Mac points out that Apple doesn’t only need to prove that Samsung copied the phone, however, it is necessary to prove that it infringes specific design and utility patents. One of Samsung’s claims is that the design isn’t patent-worthy.