Everyone is entirely familiar with the Apple (AAPL)/Samsung (SSNLF.PK) travails, and how Apple accuses Samsung of copying its trade dress wholesale. But there are other obvious instances of this practice flying under the radar, and hitting other companies. Such is the case with Nokia (NOK).
Nokia has enough troubles as it is. The huge transition from Symbian to Windows Phone, the huge loss of smartphone market share and the still-doubtful success of its new strategy would be enough to keep its hands full. To face these challenges, Nokia has its long experience in the mobile market and significant technical and design competence. The result of this competence was in display when Nokia introduced the Lumia line of smartphones, starting with the Lumia 800 and later, the 900. These devices introduced an unmistakably innovative design language, as seen below with the Lumia 800.
Nokia has for the most part kept on with that design language in its new iteration of Windows Phone 8 smartphones, for instance with the Lumia 920, as pictured below.
So what happened next?
As Windows Phone 8 hit the market, Nokia was by far the most successful of the Windows Phone suppliers, with nearly 60% of the Windows Phone market.
Maybe its designs were taken to mean "Windows Phone," and what followed was this: HTC also launched a Windows Phone 8 device, the HTC 8X. How did that phone look like? It looked like this:
But it didn't stop here
Today, we get wind not of a further Windows Phone 8 device, but instead of a new Android phone by Lenovo. This phone not only looks like pictured below, but it also goes further. It's rumored that the phone models will be S820 and S920. The precise same numbering as the Nokias (Source: Engadget).
It would seem that Lenovo thought the design was original and it could capitalize on such design by selling it into the Android market, where Nokia isn't present. Sure, it's flattering to be copied so extensively, but one really has to wonder if Nokia will sit tight through all of this.
Unless Nokia is not protecting its designs, it would seem high time that lawsuits should start flying. On the surface one would say that Nokia's design was even more distinctive than the iPhone's at launch, and yet the copies being thrown around by HTC and Lenovo seem much more blatant than Samsung's ever were.
If Nokia fails to protect its uniqueness that's being challenged here, its mission in regaining its footing in the smartphone market will turn out to be even harder. So in short, one would hope that Nokia will, indeed, launch a couple of lawsuits over this, soon.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.