When the iPhone launched there was literally nothing else like it on the market. It started a trend in many areas that has spread to all corners of the mobile phone world. Specifically it has determined a standard for interfaces that has become ubiquitous. If you pick up any current generation handset that features a touch screen, chances are that it won’t take you long to figure out how to perform all the basic functions of that device. Standardisation has meant that we are able to take what we know from one phone and carry that knowledge across, meaning that we don’t have to start from scratch when we are getting to grips with a new handset.
Some ideas, such as the pinch zoom that has become common practice with internet browsers on all devices, are literally un-copyrightable. It is not within a judge’s power to decide who may have come up with the idea, nor can it be defended by any one party without sufficient evidence. It is a standard that has become such a staple of the type of device itself that it would be like trying to file a suit against anyone who puts a camera in their phone.
But when it comes to software design, and in particular the way in which a program performs certain functions, it is much easier to be able to defend such an idea and have the proper documentation to support the claim. This is what the legal battle boils down to. Apple claim that Samsung phones are too similar to their iPhone and amongst other things, and therefore that Samsung have used sections of copyrighted code that allows the device to search in a certain way or otherwise operate efficiently. One case in Germany has already led to the banning of the Samsung Galaxy SIII in the country, effectively making it illegal to sell the handset.