Apple vs Samsung Reminds Us: What’s Obvious Today Was Obscure in the Past

‘The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.

“Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along.” Alan Ashley-Pitt as quoted in “The Wonderful Crisis of Middle Age” by Eda LeShan

And so we find on Page 46 of 109 in the Apple-Samsung jury instructions this rather concerning issue: “Obviousness”. Specifically:

“A utility patent claim is invalid if the claimed invention would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field at the time of invention”

Now I’m no expert in the specifics of this trial. But this fundamental idea concerns me. Because there’s a strange relationship between what’s obvious today and what would have been obvious before a product was released.

Copying Apple makes it far easier to introduce new phones and give them the appearance of “exciting”.

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Web Advertising and the Myth of “Lean Forward Media”

The companies promoting various forms of online advertising spend vast amounts of time pointing out well understood challenges with off-line advertising. But those very same companies are blind to the tremendous weaknesses in online advertising.

And the truth is that there are tremendous downsides to web advertising – downsides that may explain the extraordinarily low CPC’s that can be charged online. (More on these costs later.) Read more of this post

Store Brand? Manufacturer Brand? The Real Issue is Telling Consumers Something Meaningful.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about store brands competing with manufacturer brands – mostly talking about how store brands are thriving. This is to be expected – both due to retail evolution and the recession. But I don’t think we have to consider the brand preference a zero-sum game — reality is far more interesting.

Both types of brand play important roles for the consumer. And the consumer market is so robust there’s plenty of room for all types of brands – if they deliver something meaningful to consumers.

What’s missing in the current discussion, though, is any coherent discussion of the reality that it takes outstanding communication to make both types of brands thrive. Read more of this post