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Re: Clever ploy? If we base it on the smell of the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it's the same but beyond that, isn't it different?
I'm not defending Apple because look and feel should not be IP
I thought this was settled a long time ago in the same dispute with Microsoft. I guess there's no precedent because Microsoft settled out-of-court with Apple. However, I believe that settlement was under duress. The DOJ had a big microscope on them and they likely wanted to demonstrate they could share the sandbox with others.
Microsoft was following, Apple was leading
I thought it was shown that Microsoft deliberately used their market-leading position to squash competitors who were creating a new market. The new market revealed Microsoft was unprepared. To catch up, they distributed a highly proprietary HTML browser (VBScript, ActiveX, DHTML), for free. This was during an era where others were trying to sell browsers. I believe court documents showed that they feared an open, standards-based HTML browser would equalize platforms and supplant their grip on the desktop market. They also tried to hijack Java from Sun using the same techniques for the same reason. They even claimed Java is unnecessary because the market doesn't need an OS on top of the OS (they were doing us a favor!) Arguably, they did made Java work better on Windows (Visual J++) but that wasn't Java's mission and it violated their contract with Sun. They also lost that case with Sun.
Microsoft was behind and started copying others and unfairly used their dominant position to win. Apple is in the lead and they are, arguably, unfairly using IP to keep the lead.
I like Microsoft but they were pretty ruthless until the DOJ spent some time with them in the proverbial woodshed. I also like Apple. I'm an iPhone/iPad owner. However, I don't agree with the look-and-feel portion of their case against Samsung. I don't think it should be illegal for competitors to mimic them. I don't think competitors should be allowed to copy them but I think it's fair to mimic them.
A while back there was a car commercial where one of the luxury manufacturers was showing a picture of its car on a copy machine. The gist of the commercial was something like "often copied, never equaled". Meaning, as much as the competitors try to copy us, we're still better. How can this occur in one LOB and be denied elsewhere? It seems inconsistent to be able to use look-and-feel IP to squelch competition in one LOB and not another.