This photo frame was launched by Samsung in 2006, and if you wouldn’t know better, you’d probably think it’s an iPad, or at least a tablet that strongly resembles it. But wait a minute. If this product came out in 2006 – does that mean it’s this product that looks like an iPad, or is it the iPad that looks like this product? Does that mean Apple copied Samsung’s innovation? Should Samsung ask for injunctions on iPads all over the world now because it has the same “look and feel” as their photo frame?


Granted, they are not in the same market. The iPad is a “tablet”, while this is a “photo frame”, but it can store photos, music and movies, as well, so the similarities don’t end at just looking the same. Legally, it might not even matter if they are in different markets. I remember when Apple had to settle with Cisco for the name “iPhone”, even though Cisco was using the name for a completely different market than smartphones. So how can Apple put an injunction on the Galaxy Tab because it looks similar to the iPad, if both look like this product made by Samsung, no other, in 2006? Does Apple really own the “look and feel” of tablets then, or does Samsung?

The Patent Fantasy World

I’ve argued a couple of days ago how silly it is that the patent law (and even some judges) think it’s ok to legally block competitors from competing with your product just because their products are “similar”.

Being “similar” is what defines an entire product category. Without some kind of similarity, we wouldn’t have “tablets” we’d have just “tablet. We wouldn’t have “fridges”. We’d just have “fridge”, and so on. Entire markets would be defined by just one unique product alone.  That means there wouldn’t be any “direct” competition. One company would have the monopoly over that product category in every market. Prices would be higher, and the progress for that type of product would be a lot slower, since there would be nobody offering a similar product. If everyone enforced their patents on all their competitors, and “justice” regarding this would be made swiftly, that’s exactly the type of world we would live in. And all because the patent system is so broken, and doesn’t account for how things work in the real business world.

Back to the Real World

Fortunately, for the most part, the business world doesn’t work like that. Competitors copy each other’s features all the time and they don’t even bother suing each other (even though they could, as long as they own the patents). This ends up making the progress of their products a lot faster. They *need* to stay always one step or two ahead of each other in different features, so people can still prefer them over the others. But they all copy the basic features and concepts from each other, and then they just compete on “new” innovations and differentiating factors. The prices also drop because everyone overs pretty similar products, and the quality keeps getting up. Consumers win.

But in some markets (tablet market) some competitors (Apple) will actually try to enforce their patents to block their competitors from even competing with them. The only reason that fantasy patent world I mentioned earlier doesn’t really exist is because the patents are not enforced as much as they could be by companies. But Apple seems to be trying their best to make that patent fantasy world become real, and if they succeed, all customers will be at a loss for lack of choices for “similar” products. And that includes Apple customers, because everyone loses when there’s less competition for a type of product.

Oh, and as a bonus check out this other “iPad” made 17 years ago, which I found thanks to a commenter of ours (AppleFUD).

  • Patent reform is needed

    The problem is, the “patent” apple is using to ban the Tab form EU is from 2004 I think. . . a design patent or whatever funky name they are calling these “sketch patents” in the EU.

    And we have no way of knowing what the sketches were even for other than a square/rectangular device that’s rather thin. It’s a complete joke and exposes just how corrupt governments are and how they are being used by big business to squash competition.

    The only saving grace in the whole EU design patent BS is that the ultimate loser in the battle has to pay restitution. And since there is a butt ton of prior art pre 2004 for devices that look like the iPad and iPhone I hope Samsung sticks it to Apple and a judge makes them pay through the nose for abusing the system.

    • patents can sometimes make people go crazy because of narrowing of creativity

      • Anonymous

        this article is stupid. that photo frame has a HUGE Back with a stupid kickstand the size of a rocket

        • Anonymous

          Okay, but the face looks almost identical to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (and similar to the iPad). So, essentially the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is simply design progression within Samsung’s previous design structure (from 2006) and not at all a “clone” or “copy” of the iPad (since Apple has absolutely “no” prior art to support the current iPad design). You’d, at the very least, have to admit to that…wouldn’t you?

  • Jon Garrett

    This article is great and I hope this is the kind of argument Samsung will make. in addition to the above info, Id like to show you the evolution of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

    from the Q11EX to the Galaxy Tab and finally the Galaxy Tab 10.1 I don’t see how any honest person can say that Samsung copied the iPad.

    2006: Samsung Q1
    2007:Samsung Q2 UMPC
    2008: Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC
    2009: Samsung Q1EX UMPC
    2010: Samsung Galaxy Tab
    2011: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

  • Prior art at it’s finest.

  • LJ

    Something else which Apple likes to try and ignore is if their product infringes on OTHER people’s patents or trademarks. The name “iPad” was fact owned by Fujitsu as a name for a handheld POS (point of sale) terminal for many years before Apple came up with their tablet computer. The result? A quiet un-named settlement out of court to shut Fujitsu up. But this definitely smacks of “do what we tell you, not what we do”….

  • LJ

    Something else which Apple likes to try and ignore is if their product infringes on OTHER people’s patents or trademarks. The name “iPad” was fact owned by Fujitsu as a name for a handheld POS (point of sale) terminal for many years before Apple came up with their tablet computer. The result? A quiet un-named settlement out of court to shut Fujitsu up. But this definitely smacks of “do what we tell you, not what we do”….

    • Anonymous

      So whats your point or do you even have one? You actually made a point that makes Apple look good since they took a name that was used and paid the company that they took it from…… Oh but Apple is soooooooo bad and terrible. Man please!!!!!

      • NO, it proves that Apple tried to do it without paying anything, and when it looked like Fujitsu were going to sue, they hushed it all up by paying an “unknown” amount, translation “Huge amount”. Even the iPhone name wasn’t Apples, it belonged to Cisco – another company, which they “borrowed” and then had to pay another huge sum to shut that one up! The Samsung photo frame with music and video playback, looks almost identical to the iPad in form and factor, which means Samsung probably of all manufacturers, “owns” the “look and feel” of today’s tablets!

  • Anonymous

    thas only jpeg photoframe,
    the tab 10.1 actually almost same as ipad as it redesign as ipad2 came out.
    tab 10.1 was thick, the new one was thinner, dumping all ports usb, hdmi just wide thin port just like ipad. if the tab design not as thin as ipad2 as the 10.1 v series, i doubt apple is sueing.

    • tBs_Battousai

      It might only be a JPEG photoframe, but this is all about what the product looks like… did you read the article at all?

  • Anonymous

    There was a time when Apple promised not to enter the music market, so that there would be no confusion between their company and the original Apple, publishers of the Beatles’ music.

    Their first cheeky breach of that promise was the welcoming musical chime on their next Apple computer – with the file name Sosumi.

    Check it out. Apple has always sailed close to the wind; it is all about commercial skulduggery for them.

    Why do they bother? They make good products that would stand out even more if Apple was also a squeaky clean company.

  • Griff

    What’s amazing about that “other iPad” video is the guy talking about how things start off with what you know, and evolve into something new. Too bad the media companies didn’t pay attention – they continue to whine about the death of the old ways while the world evolves around them.