Apple's arguably most important legal case came in the early 1990s when the company battled Microsoft over similarities in Mac OS and Windows. While that case didn't turn out as well as Apple had hoped, the company is once again accusing a rival of copying its platforms.
Samsung is the target this time, but the end result of the case could extend far beyond just one vendor.
Apple's complaint alleges that Samsung is copying Apple's iOS platform as well as its iPhone and iPad hardware with the Galaxy line of Android tablets and handsets. Given the spread of Android devices, a favorable outcome for Apple could open the door for additional cases and/or settlements with Android vendors.
Of course, just as Apple's case with Microsoft was undercut by legal claims from Xerox PARC over the first graphical user interface, so too could early vendors lob claims against Apple. If Apple's claims against Samsung are too vague, vendors such as RIM and Palm (now HP) could jump into the case.
One case that smartphone developers have made recently is that, by nature, smartphone interfaces are going to resemble one another as developers adopt best practices for interface design and layout.
The results of this case could be very interesting for any number of vendors.
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