If you have any interest in smartphones and tablets, then you have probably heard about what's going on in California right now. Apple and Samsung are locked up in a pretty heated legal battle, with the focus solely centered on patent infringement. Apple started the whole thing, and there's been plenty of backlash towards the Cupertino-based company because of it. Then again, Apple sees plenty of backlash more often than not for a lot of different reasons, to the point of where "boycott Apple" was (perhaps it still is?) popular on services like Google+.

This isn't going to be an article about the legal side of the courtroom battle, because I'm not a lawyer and I don't get paid to pretend to be one. I just want to talk to you, the consumer, and look at it from that particular angle. Because that's supposed to be the whole point, right? Apple says that Samsung infringed on patents, and is blatantly copying certain aspects of Apple's design. Samsung refutes all of this. And back-and-forth, back-and-forth. It has people wondering if Samsung might have to ditch TouchWiz UI altogether.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in the legal side of the proceedings happening now, I'm more than sure that you have an opinion on the subject. Whether you're an Apple fan, or you're an Android loyalist, or maybe you just hate Apple, you've got an opinion about where this is going. Or, more importantly, what has happened. There are plenty of questions to be asked here, but there's only one that's really important for a general discussion:

Do you think Samsung copied Apple?

Now, some might say that it seems pretty cut-and-dry. After all, there were documents revealed through the court proceedings that confirmed Samsung was indeed taking some design cues from the iPhone. The company knew that the iPhone was popular, and apparently took to heart the old saying, "If you can't beat them, join them." So, I can see where some folks would admit here and now that Samsung, indeed, copied Apple's iPhone.

However, it doesn't seem that everyone feels that way, even with those documents. Late last night on Twitter, I saw several different streams of conversation regarding this particular subject. People discussing whether or not Samsung had copied Apple. It was pretty evenly sided, but I was actually shocked at how many people were saying things like, "Yeah, sure, they're similar, but did they copy Apple? No way."

All right. So, we draw the line at "similar?" I guess I can understand that. There are plenty of similarities between, say, HP's webOS and Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook OS, with those fancy "cards" and what not. So we know that similarities happen. But, Apple seems to believe that the similarities were so close, so similar in fact, that people on the street were confusing Samsung-branded devices, like the Galaxy Tab, for Apple devices.

(In an interesting twist, it was revealed in part that people were returning most Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices not because the customers thought they were iPads, but because they didn't work in some fashion or another. So, they were getting returned, but because they weren't working, not because people were confused.)

I took the Galaxy Tab 10.1 outside a few times, and people asked me questions about it more times than I can count. But, you know what the most common question was? "Hey, is that an iPad?" I've heard of people being asked if their Galaxy S, the original, was an iPhone, but I never had it happen to me.

There are similarities between devices, that's obvious. The application tray on a Galaxy S does indeed look like the home screen on the iPhone. Icons do look similar. The similarities are there and not hidden, even in the slightest. But, did these similarities slow down the sales of iPhones and iPads? If they did, then wow. Could you imagine how many devices would have been sold if Samsung's similar, competing devices weren't around? Almost hard to imagine.

So, let's be straightforward here. You, as the consumer, tell me what you think. I want to see some healthy conversation about whether or not Samsung copied Apple. That's it. I just want to know if you think Samsung's products are direct rip-offs of Apple's. If not, then tell me why not. If you do, tell me an example. Let me hear what you have to say, Dear Reader.


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