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BW Businessworld

The Big Fight

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Ah, I love a good fight! And here it comes.

Apple is suing Samsung. And Samsung has gone off to find something which it can use to hit Apple over the head with, in retaliation.

Apple tends to keep its legal department rather busy, actually, and is currently suing Nokia and Motorola as well. With the lawsuit it's hurled at Samsung though, an interesting situation has been triggered off because Apple happens to be Samsung's second biggest client, ironically for parts that go into the disputed products.

On the face of it, the reasons Apple is going after Samsung, sound rather silly. Apple says Samsung is "slavishly" copying many aspects of Apple's product design and packaging. A black border around the screen, square-rounded icons, round-rectangular product shapes, a metallic line around the body,  icon styling, and so on. But when you take all the points that Apple is complaining about together, detailed in a 373-page lawsuit, you see that the similarities extend to the overall look and feel and packaging, including the silver lettering on the boxes.

So, why did Samsung not take the trouble to create its own signature styling rather than get within a whisker of Apple's iPad and iPhone? Perhaps the idea was to get away with as much as it could and leverage on the success of Apple's design. I'm sure Samsung worked out, with its own legal advice, what it could do though they say they developed their own designs and technology independently. The question now is whether the Samsung products are getting so close to Apple's that they could confuse the buyer. Well known tech analyst, Nilay Patel has had a good look at the Apple lawsuit and simplified it, and he explains that trade dress law is violated when people buying the products are actually getting mixed up between them. Of course, I rather doubt that this is the case since no one goes into a shop and asks for a Samsug-iPhone or even otherwise picks up one when they wanted the other. In the present times, buyers are savvy enough to know what they're buying.  Incidentally, the Apple lawsuit makes for interesting reading.

           Apple i-pad (AP)

I'm not very business-savvy else a) I'd be very rich and b) I'd understand exactly why Apple is suing Samsung. Where will it get critical parts for its products (including for MacBooks and iPads) if Samsung were to delay or withhold these in a countermove? What would happen to the technologies these competitors were actually working on together? Is this a pure anti-Samsung move or an anti-Android move, or just a temporary spanner in the works to buy time and strengthen its position, taking back share from Android? Of course, it isn't necessary that the whole Apple-Samsung relationship would go to pieces because the business they do together benefits both companies – obviously.

If Apple wins this battle, it will put Samsung at a bit of a disadvantage and stem the flow of me-too devices being rushed to market. If it doesn't, such products could flood the place and the edge Apple has could be under threat.

All I can say is I hope, while Apple and Samsung are busy with each other, someone will leave the warehouse doors open and let us get at those phones and tablets.

Mala Bhargava is a personal technology writer and media professional. Contact her at [email protected] and @malabhargava on Twitter