Does it really matter if Samsung Apple is copying or not?

Original author: James Allworth
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Over the past few weeks, the Internet has been seething with news about the legal confrontation between Apple and Samsung. While the court is looking for an answer to the main question - did Samsung copy Apple’s designs? - We take a unique opportunity to look behind the scenes of companies, studying internal documents declassified for use in court. But there is one more question, which, in my opinion, is much more important for future innovations in the technology industry: regardless of whether Samsung really copied Apple or not, maybe it is worth allowing and even encouraging companies to copy from each other?

This issue is especially relevant in the context of the Apple vs Samsung process, because this is not the first time that Apple accuses other companies of copying. The famous lawsuit against Microsoft in the mid-90s, it painfully resembles the present: “We have created an innovative graphical interface; Microsoft copied it; if our competitors copy our developments, we will not be able to continue innovation. ” That process Apple lost.

Most interesting is what happened afterwards.

Apple has not ceased to create a new one. On the contrary: they released iMac. Then Mac OS X ( Redmond, turn on your copiers! ") Then the iPod. Then the iPhone. And finally the iPad. If Apple really went to court to be able to continue innovating, it's hard to resist the question: if copying kills innovation, why didn’t Apple stop moving forward after it Have you copied the product? Copying didn’t stop or even slow its progress. Rather, it accelerated it. Apple didn’t have the opportunity to rest on its laurels; in order to remain a profitable company and achieve its current leadership in the technology sector, they had to introduce new products as fast as it was possible.

This point should be considered in more detail in the wider context of intellectual property protection. This is precisely what is said in Cal Raustyala and Chris Springman's book, The Economics of Copying: How Imitation Generates Innovation, an excerpt from which was recently published in The Wall Street Journal. It is generally accepted that without copy protection, progress will stop. But, oddly enough, there are many examples where an industry open to copy flourished, rather than stopping in development. Rustal and Springman write: "Great inventions are often built on the basis of existing ones, and freedom of copying was necessary for them." And this is true even for Apple itself, as evidenced by the letter from Apple's top manager Eddie Kew in which he, impressed by the Samsung product, offers to make changes to the Apple tablet line.

Some would call it copying. But I think this is an example of a perfectly functioning competitive market.

Using Apple as an example, you can clearly see that even after losing the court and without patent protection, you can continue to innovate. And in order not to be unfair to this company, it is worth remembering that it also suffered from patent claims of competitors, for example, Nokia recently sued it successfully .

In general, it often seems that corporations recall patent protection when things are not going well on the market.

If Apple wins this process and forces Samsung to curtail supplies or pay serious royalties, does anyone really believe that there will be more new products on the mobile device market, or will these devices become more affordable? Conversely, if Samsung wins, does anyone believe that Apple will suddenly stop developing new iPhones and iPads? This did not happen when Apple last time lost the court!

It is not so difficult to see that the battle of corporations in court to find out “who is copying from whom?” counterproductive. Many of these lawsuits indicate one thing: everyone is already copying each other. Is there a better solution than a court? Sure! It’s better that companies fight in a market where consumers, and not court, will decide what is innovation and what is not. In this case, the best protection against copying is not litigation, but acceleration of development to such an extent that competitors simply cannot keep up. And this, in my opinion, is an ideal solution not only for consumers, but also for innovators themselves.