To say the smart cover is not an Apple design is a little disingenuous. Sure, the over all design looks very similar to the Incase design. The innovation Apple brought to the table is the magnets that act to align the cover, hold it in place, and turn the device off and on. Those features seem to be uniquely Apple. That typically is what Apple always does is build on something that is already out there. Further, Apple's design only covers the front, while Incase's design wraps around the whole thing and is affixed to the back. I can't see anything Apple's competitors are adding to the design.
With that said, it should be noted, Apple's means of protecting the Smart Cover design are limited to trademark law and possibly patent law. Neither Incase, Apple, or anybody else can copyright the overall design of the cover because it likely would be considered a useful article and not be eligible for copyright protection. However, by the knock off using the name Smart Case, it is possible Apple could win a trademark fight based on Apple's Trademark on the mark "Smart Cover." That seems like a clear attempt to build on the good will Apple has developed using the mark Smart Cover.
Apple also has at least one patent covering Smart Covers, and could possible assert those rights if any type of interactive functionality is added between the third parties cover and Samsung's devices (e.g. removing the cover turns the device on).
Further, it is interesting to note, Incase has not said a word about Apple's case. It is possible Apple collaborated with Incase. Whatever the situation might be, Incase's design borrows from many other ideas. For instance, gymnastic mats that fold in a very similar way
. Some truck bed covers. Also I remember my mother's kitchen table came with a protection pad that worked just like this cover.
The Smart Cover undoubtedly seems inspired by Incase's design, but under copyright law that is fine. In turn, Samsung's knock off case maker is also free to be inspired by Apple with the possible exception of the name. The parties also might not be able to use the exact same colors, as colors are protected under copyright as well (try mixing a Ralph Lauren color using some other company's paint at a place like Home Depot).
Originally Posted by Menno
I was waiting for someone to copy and paste that tripe here:
1: This is NOT a Samsung product. Even the article you got this from got that right. it is a product that Samsung approved (much like accessories seek approval for the "made for ipod" sticker)
2: The Smart case is NOT apple's design. The idea of a triangle folding cover isn't new, and the first case made for an ipad with this design was NOT MADE BY APPLE. It was made by incase: http://technologer.net/2011/03/03/di...a-from-incase/
As for your 'Well most people understand copying as this" argument, that's pointless. What most people think doesn't matter because 1) we're discussing patent law here. 2) Most people are idiots when it comes to things that are not in their field (and sometimes idiots in their own field)
The patent system is broken. The fact that developers are removing their apps from US markets proves this. Just because it's supporting a side you tend to agree with this time doesn't make the practice any more "valid."