Apple turns U.K. legal loss into new Samsung attack

The company turns a legal requirement to publicly acknowledge defeat in its U.K. High Court patent case against Samsung into a new chance to say Samsung copied the iPad.

A week after Apple lost an appeal at the U.K. High Court, the iPhone and iPad maker has followed the court's requirement to publish a notice its U.K. home page stating the court's finding that Samsung didn't infringe its patents.

But not in a way that shows any contrition. Instead, Apple used the notice as a new opportunity to make its case against its tablet rival.

On October 18, a U.K. High Court appeals judge ruled that Samsung did not infringe Apple's design patents in the U.K., after an earlier ruling by Judge Colin Birss claiming that Samsung tablets weren't as "cool" as the iPad.

As a result, Birss originally ruled that Apple must run notices on its U.K. Web site and in a number of U.K. printed publications stating that Samsung did not infringe Apple's patents and therefore did not break U.K. law.

The court ruled that the notice must stay on Apple's site for one month.

Apple applied for a stay on the ruling, which it was granted, but lost the appeal last week.

Thus, Apple duly changed its U.K. home page this morning, adding a small link at the bottom of the page with the title "Samsung/Apple UK judgment."

In the statement, Apple turned what Apple's lawyer called an "advertisement" for Samsung's win into an opportunity to toot its own horn. In it, Apple quoted Birss' conclusion (PDF) that its products are "cool" and the Samsung Galaxy tablets are less so.

The final two paragraphs of the statement are most telling.

In them, Apple said that a case in Germany regarding the same patent found Samsung was "copying" the iPad design. Ditto for the U.S, where Apple was awarded more than $1 billion in damages. Comparing the U.K. case to others around the world, Apple concluded, "Samsung willfully copied Apple's far more popular iPad."

The full text of Apple's message reads as follows:

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.

This article was first published on ZDNet.

 

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