Thursday Grok: Oh, that “step by step guide on how to copy the iPhone”

Samsung's lawyers will need some pretty twisty tricks to escape this knot

Apple's long running patent violation war with Samsung has burst back onto the screens this morning after Apple successfully tendered into evidence a 132-page document prepared by its rival comparing Apple's offerings to Samsung's.

Indeed, the headlines tell the story. Business Insider described this as “the smoking gun” in the case, in a story headlined, “Here's Samsung’s Step by Step Guide on how to copy an iPhone”. For convenience, it also provides a neat little slide show highlighting the most interesting/amusing/odious comparisons — depending on your current fanboy status.

All Things D, where Business Insider sourced its story, provides a more complete rendering of the story under the headline, “Samsung’s 2010 Report Says Its Galaxy Would Be Better if It Were Just More Like the iPhone”.

According to ATD, “Authored by Samsung’s product engineering team, the document evaluates everything from the home screen to the browser to the built-in apps on both devices. In each case, it comes up with a recommendation on what Samsung should do going forward, and in most cases, its answer is simple: Make it work more like the iPhone.”

Samsung's reaction to the document ran along the lines of, “Oh, that 132-page document...Nothing to see here, move along.”

The company tried to play it all down by saying this was typical competitive analysis and nothing exceptional. Grok is not sure if “Hey, we copy everyone's stuff all the time” is much of a defence when you are arguing about patent violations — but at least the argument is novel — unlike their product designs, apparently.

The stakes, as followers of this case are no doubt aware of, are huge. Apple is seeking $2.5 billion from Samsung for patent infringement, according to the Washington Post . More significantly, it wants to make permanent a preliminary ban on Samsung tablets, and it wants the ban extended to Samsung phone.

Apple and Samsung are pwning their competitors in the US smartphone market right now. CNET reported this morning that their combined sales grew 43 per cent last quarter, while other vendors retreated to the tune of 16 per cent. The figures are from a report by NPD Group.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments. Follow him on Twitter @ag_birmingham.

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