Ina Fried

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Samsung Hinges Its Defense in Apple Case on Rectangles and Rounded Corners

Gl0ck /

A significant part of Samsung’s defense in Apple’s patent lawsuit is that elements of the iPhone design are actually natural outgrowths of improvements in technology.

The company used Samsung executive Justin Denison on Friday to begin making that point for the seven men and two women who will ultimately decide the case.

In essence, Samsung argues that a lot of the iPhone’s design — and several of its design patents — amount to rounded corners and rectangles, neither of which are new and both of which are functional elements rather than design features.

Apple is suing for more than just those design patents, however. The company is suing over design patents and utility patents as well as copying the “trade dress” of its iPhone and iPad. Samsung is also suing Apple for infringing on its patents.

Denison, who is Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung’s U.S. mobile subsidiary, was actually called to the stand by Apple as it sought to introduce evidence that Samsung copied the iPhone and iPad.

Later on Friday, though, Samsung lawyer John Quinn had Denison make the case that rounded corners help devices feel better in the hand, make them easier to go into the pocket and lessen the likelihood of the screen cracking when dropped.

As for having a big rectangular screen with a small border, Denison said that, too, is just logical.

“You really do want the device to be one giant screen,” Denison said. However, black frames, like those on the iPhone and other smartphones are necessary because the glass has to be glued onto the display and the borders cover that glass.

Denison argued that as the technology has come into the marketplace, lots of device makers have moved in this direction.

Samsung is also trying to make its case that it is a significant inventor in its own right, noting it has been No. 2 in U.S. patents awarded in recent years, employs more than 1,000 designers and thousands of engineers and spends billions on research and development.

Asked whether Samsung employees all of these people to “copy,” Denison replied, not surprisingly, “No.”

Image: Gl0ck /

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google