actually, Steve Jobs and other Apple employees were allowed to see what was going on at Xerox Parc by the Xerox executives because they were too lacking in imagination and vision to see what kind of goldmine they were sitting on and protect it (and Xerox was also investing in Apple at that point). Jobs later hired several of the Xerox Parc team to work on Macintosh.re original article
possible karma effect
aapl copied xerox parc
now everyone copies aapl
In the end though, should it be against the law to copy Apple's design and/or innovation? No (with some concrete exceptions). There have been multiple examples where Apple has improved on already existing technology and software (including the first GUI). But it's also pathetic to simply copy their ideas on the iPhone - to react rather than innovate (it's not always that way around, but until quite recently that has been the case far more often than not). A friend of mine used to work at Samsung's mobile design team and he was called into a meeting where his boss threw the first iPhone on the table and said 'make me something exactly like this!' They were all complacent and working under ludicrous and archaic corporate hierarchies (one ignorant and detached boss in South Korea had to approve every design and often did so on a whim...yes like Steve , but as Steve would say, it's all a matter of how much taste you have and how much work you put into understanding the product you're making), which meant there was no room for creativity or vision (reminds me of what eventually left IBM and Xerox behind). Why should an executive who got the job because his dad or uncle founded the company, knowing little about mobile phones and nothing about design, be the one who makes the only decision on which models are approved?
Imitation is the best form of flattery and Apple got a big head start and, what, doubled the size of their revenue with the iPhone alone? They should be satisfied with that and agree on some kind of licensing terms.