Today a Samsung industrial designer testified that the company’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 project predated the launch of the iPad, and that Samsung did not redesign the tablet in response to the iPad 2 — despite an executive’s public statements to the contrary. Samsung called to the stand Jin Soo Kim, one of the company’s principal industrial designers, who stated via interpreter that the Tab 10.1 project began back in October of 2009 (Apple unveiled the iPad on January 27th, 2010). He then showed an email featuring a design that appeared to be quite close to the final product — and was dated a full three weeks before the iPad announcement.
Kim was also asked about the impetus behind many of the design decisions for the device (Apple’s design patents don’t hold water if the choices were made for strictly functional reasons). He said that certain aspects, like the flat front face, were landed upon because they made the device work best, while others — like the 10.1-inch size — were due to operational efficiencies. Increasing the panel size by even a tenth of an inch, he said, would reduce the yield when cutting screens by nearly half.
Which MWC tablet inspired a thinner Galaxy Tab?
Perhaps most interesting were his statements with regard to the iPad 2′s influence on the Tab line — or the lack thereof. After the iPad 2 was announced in 2011, a Samsung executive admitted that the company was quickly redesigning the Tab 10.1 in response to the thinness of the iPad 2. Apple didn’t question Kim directly about the public statements, but Harold McElhinny did ask why Samsung decided to redesign the 10.1 so quickly. According to Kim, the company had already been pursuing a thinner version of the 10.1 in response to tablets it saw at the 2011 Mobile World Congress.
Apple also questioned Kim about two emails, detailing a meeting between Samsung and Google representatives. According to the documents, Google had made several requests of Samsung due to what the company felt were visual similarities to Apple’s products. “Since it is too similar to Apple, make it noticeably different, starting with the front side,” one of the emails read; “Google is demanding distinguishable design vis-à-vis the iPad” said another. Kim, however, said that none of his supervisors had ever discussed the Google conversations with him.
Kim’s testimony came just a day after the company called one of its icon designers to testify. Jeeyeun Wang also stated that she hadn’t copied any Apple designs in the creation of her work; we’ll have to wait until the case goes to deliberations to find out if the jury agrees.
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