Apple vs. Samsung: Why Inspiration Is Now Stealing

On Friday, Apple won a major lawsuit against Samsung for infringing on a variety of patents. Total damages estimates to over $1 billion, but did Samsung really steal? Or were they merely inspired by Apple?

We live in an awesome time, one that has the fortune of seeing rapid expansion in technology across all spaces. With so much brainpower offering the seemingly impossible for – at times – free, we also see such innovative battles play out in the wrong ways.

The beauty of progress is centered on the fact that we do not have to reinvent the wheel every time we sit down with an idea. Because we can rely on the foresight of the geniuses that came before us, we can go further than they ever could. This is how we move forward.

Claiming Samsung stole the “look and feel,” “slide to unlock,” “bounce-back” features and others within iOS is a weak argument. All innovations inspire future progress. In the lawsuit, one of Apple’s chief arguments was to demonstrate how the iPhone’s release in 2007, sparked a string of Samsung phones that slowly started to look like Apple’s. But just because you invented a market, doesn’t mean you own it.

Did Apple really think every phone manufacturer was just going to lay down and die in 2007? Just handing the future of the smartphone market away to a utopian Apple oasis? No. When Henry Ford created the assembly line, IBM developed the first computer-system family, and search engines were first arriving, do you think other companies and entrepreneurs just sat and watched? No. They tried to make it better.

So what if Samsung was inspired by Apple? We all were. Inspiration does what you expect it to do: it inspires all of us to create. And Steve Jobs and the Apple brand is no stranger to it either. The name “Apple” is inspired from The Beatles record label and the original Mac mouse was taken from Xerox. Even Apple’s famous 1984 commercial symbolized a tech company exuding defiance to a world that said no. I also don’t seem to remember iPhones having a notifications bar before iOS 5 either? This is something inspired directly from Android, and in turn, Samsung. But in 2012, we’re left with an Apple company scared of legitimate threats, and abusing its well-earned leverage.

Jobs even stated publicly in 1996, on PBS’s Triumph of the Nerds that, “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” a quote taken from Pablo Picasso. So why don’t we quit complaining and start competing? Isn’t that what a free market is supposed to do? Apple’s broad patents protect their company, while harming an entire industry. Sooner or later we’ll have to decide whether we want to live in a world of inspiration, or one filled with corporate control that hoards early success. It’s time to grow up Apple.

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