The Future Will Have No Rounded Corners

“We like your prototype, but the head of legal feels that it looks a bit too much like a popular phone his daughter has (which we shall not name). Please remove rounded edges on back and change the materials to something different. Maybe something more rubbery. Also, please submit documentation on all phone designs you may have referenced (knowingly or otherwise) while working on this prototype.”


Say hello to our likely future in product design.

Wait. Before you gripe about how there’s so much more to this Samsung case (because, I agree there is) and how blatant copycats should be shamed (I agree they should) consider this: We live amidst a sea of inspiration. It has been incredibly well-documented how we, as normal humans, build upon the past. This process is core to who we are as creative, expressive and collaborative beings. We don’t live life in a box. We don’t ignore everything around us when piecing together something new. The “new” is almost always built over the top of the “old”. Somewhere a line exists between copying and creating. The line is not clear.

The software patent situation is bad enough. Start mixing in legal ownership of “rounded corners” and “metal surrounds” and we might as well just hand the existing super-companies a blank personal check: “Build me what I’m allowed to have. Fill in the check with the price. Deliver to my address.”

Somewhere there’s a high school kid drawing up a better gaming console or a more intuitive video capture device. I’d hate to see a bright future get ripped to shreds in the legal department because this kid might have referenced some portion of a Playstation in the process. It’ll happen. It won’t make the news. We’ll just wonder why all this new “innovation” looks wildly different than everything else and doesn’t feel right.

“This phone sure would be better without the rubbery mess on the back.”


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To continue this discussion or offer your disgruntled disagreements feel free to hit me up on twitter @swisslehman