Apple to Samsung: Sorry We Called Your iPad Copy a Copy
Leave it to Apple to transform a court-ordered apology into a rival-skewering piece of advertising. This morning, the company complied with a U.K. court mandate that it publicly recant allegations that Samsung copied the design of the iPad for its own Galaxy tablet. But it did so with a statement that is hardly the “public grovel” it complained of to a U.K. appeals court.
The notice does comply with the court’s order, but in the annals of recantation … well, Galileo should have been so lucky. Apple’s statement cites at length a widely publicized High Court finding that said Samsung’s Galaxy tablets were “not cool” enough to be mistaken for iPads. And it goes on to point out that while the U.K. court didn’t find Samsung guilty of infringement, courts in the U.S. and Germany have.
Which makes it hardly an apology at all, and a masterful twist of the court mandate.
Here’s the notice, which Apple must promote from the front page of all its EU Web sites for a month, and publish in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Mobile Magazine and T3 magazine, “in a font size no smaller than Arial 14 on a page earlier than Page 6.”
Samsung / Apple UK judgment
On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung Electronic (UK) Limited’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001. A copy of the full judgment of the High court is available on the following link www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2012/1882.html.
In the ruling, the judge made several important points comparing the designs of the Apple and Samsung products:
“The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking. Overall it has undecorated flat surfaces with a plate of glass on the front all the way out to a very thin rim and a blank back. There is a crisp edge around the rim and a combination of curves, both at the corners and the sides. The design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design.”
“The informed user’s overall impression of each of the Samsung Galaxy Tablets is the following. From the front they belong to the family which includes the Apple design; but the Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”
That Judgment has effect throughout the European Union and was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 18 October 2012. A copy of the Court of Appeal’s judgment is available on the following link www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2012/1339.html. There is no injunction in respect of the registered design in force anywhere in Europe.
However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.