This is the subjective line between homage and rip-off. The old joke is that homage is when you copy someone else; a rip-off is when someone else copies you. But to me, it’s about the difference between drawing inspiration to create something new, versus slavishly copying to create something derivative.
John’s post is great, but he makes his point seem more subtle than the reality. Apple’s products aren’t even in the same industry as the products from Braun. They certainly pay homage to the aesthetic of Dieter Rams work, but not only are there decades between the products, they serve different functions entirely.
Samsung has been making “rip-offs” of Apple’s products today, that compete for financial profit, in some instances, on the very same shelves. That’s more than a subjective difference.