Because a UK court ruled that Samsung did not infringe on a design patent that Apple owns, the Cupertino company was forced into posting up a public apology on both its website and in print ads, to make sure the world was aware of the situation. If such a ruling involved a normal company, the apology and brief note in ads would probably be straight forward, with a simple one or two line remark about the whole ordeal. But no, this is Apple, the company that can do no wrong.
This morning, Apple posted its “apology” to its UK site, only it’s not an apology at all. In fact, it talks more about how “cool” their tablet is, how “not as cool” the Samsung tablets are, and that in a couple of other countries, other courts found that Samsung did infringe on Apple patents.
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 notinfringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001. A copy of the full judgment of the Highcourt 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.
I get that this decision by a UK judge was probably not exactly what Apple was hoping for. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing. But when ordered to do something, you essentially do the opposite, and use it as a way to trash on the company you are supposed to be apologizing to? Only Apple. The sad thing is, this isn’t surprising at all. If you follow the company’s history, you would probably think that they had never made a mistake in their history, well other than Maps, and that took days of pain and mockery before Tim Cook would publicly acknowledge it.
I ranted a bit on Twitter yesterday over a similar situation that involved Apple, so the timing of this couldn’t have been better. Without going through that whole mess again, I’ll just ask this – isn’t it time Apple grows up?
Cheers Ryan and Ben!