Samsung's product chief baffled over Apple patent debate on 'rectangles'

Samsung Electronics is baffled that its patent dispute with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has led to a trial where the basic design of most rectangular smartphones is at issue, a senior Samsung executive said.

In an interview with Wired, which was conducted before the trial started Monday, Kevin Packingham, the chief product office for Samsung's mobile division, said that it is "defying common sense" that the patent debate has reached this point.

"In terms of patents, we have a made lot of contributions in the design space as well," he said. "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."

Apple has accused Samsung of "slavishly" copying the design of its iPhone and iPad, and has asserted design patents for both as well as the icon screens in its iOS software. Samsung is likely to argue in court that Apple's claims are too broad.

Packingham said that if the patent system is flawed, it is not Samsung's responsibility to fix it. "In general, this isn't a Samsung issue. This is an industry issue that we need to collectively solve," he said. "We are all trying to make sure that we are creating products and services that can be successful in the marketplace, and are interesting to consumers. So we need to find a way in which we can have healthy competition and not try to stifle competition with patents that aren't particularly unique, and really don't represent intellectual property."

In a jab at Apple, he said "there's just one company that's firing the first shot consistently. Most everybody else seems to be getting along really well."

During the first day of the trial, taking place in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., the 10-member jury was selected. Opening arguments are expected on Tuesday.

For more:
- see this Wired article
- see this The Verge article
- see this AllThingsD article

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