How explicitly can companies rip off Apple’s designs?
That was at the heart of a test posed to Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan during an October courtroom hearing with Apple, when a U.S. judge held up two devices, an iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and asked Sullivan, Perry Mason-style, if she could tell them apart.
"Not at this distance your honor," said Sullivan, who stood just 10 feet away, according toReuters.
More and more, Apple’s competitors are mimicking the company’s designs on everything from tablets to laptops to software. There’s short-term benefit here for consumers looking for inexpensive Apple alternatives this holiday season. But more significantly, it demonstrates how much Steve Jobs’s legacy has impacted device makers—and how lost they’d likely be without Jobs’s vision. As competing devices start to look more like clear Apple knockoffs, the question becomes: How far can these companies push pirating their product designs before Apple pushes back?