Samsung Product Chief Says “Consumers Want Rectangles”

It’s always good to hear from the other side of any story to get a broad perspective on who’s right and wrong, even if you think you already know. So this time Wired sat down with Samsung Product Chief, Kevin Packingham, to see his opinion on the issue. When asked how he feels about the litigation, he had much to say:

In terms of patents, we have a made lot of contributions in the design space as well. I would say the patents we’re struggling with — where there’s a lot of discussion and litigation right now — are around these very broad design patents like a rectangle. For us, it’s unreasonable that we’re fighting over rectangles, that that’s being considered as an infringement, which is why we’re defending ourselves.

Hopefully the entire industry is in the position now where we have to defend ourselves and say, “Look, it’s unreasonable for us to be in the position of claiming that there is design, claiming that there is some sort of protected property, around a rectangle.” So I would say, yeah, we have design patents as well, but they’re not as simple as the rectangle. And so that’s where I think you see a little bit of this challenge.

In some cases, for most of us in the industry, it’s defying common sense. We’re all scratching our heads and saying, “How is this possible that we’re actually having an industry-level debate and trying to stifle competition?” Consumers want rectangles and we’re fighting over whether you can deliver a product in the shape of a rectangle.

Logically, as an engineering and manufacturing company, it makes more sense to focus on the things that are really relevant and we think are truly intellectual property. They are truly unique, and have come intrinsically out of the investments we made in R&D. A rectangle did not come out of R&D investment that we’ve made. Some of our products happen to be in the shape of a rectangle, but I wouldn’t consider that to be an art or a science that we’ve created.

Packingham also took another stab at Apple saying that, although the patent system is broken, it’s no single company’s job to fix it. In fact, he even said that the system, for the most part, it is working as it should.

In the current environment, there’s just one company that’s firing the first shot consistently. Most everybody else seems to be getting along really well. There are a few areas where there has been some contention recently, but if you look at those areas of contention, they were legitimate and people were able to come to terms, business terms, that were reasonable. That’s the way the system should work.

It is strange to hear something like that coming from the main victim of the patent wars, but he raises some good points. It does put Apple in an even worse light being the one company who consistently “fires the first shot.”

How do you guys feel about this? Does Packingham prove his points? Could he be the one voice of reason this system has left? We want to know what you guys think.

Wired

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