Apple’s legal-ordered but childish public apology to Samsung on corporate home page not good enough – have to do it again [UPDATE]
// November 1st, 2012 // Mobile
The UK Court of Appeal in London ruled yesterday on the specific wording of Apple’s apology that Apple was forced to post on its homepage as the result of losing a ruling that Samsung infringed on their product design. Previously, Apple had lost its appeal in a UK court against the Samsung Galaxy Tab – the court of appeals upheld its previous judgment that Samsung did not infringe on any of Apple’s design elements. As a result, the court ordered Apple to run ads in leading UK newspapers as well as on its own website (for an entire month) stating that Samsung did not infringe its products. The court order made sure people would notice the add by specifying that the text of the ad be no smaller than Arial 14.
While Apple did update their hompage to publicly acknowledge that it was wrong to accuse Samsung of stealing the design for the iPad, it also added extraneous information to the effect that other courts had ruled differently on the matter. It also included soundbites from the court case, a comment by the judge that Samsung’s products were not as cool as Apple’s, that blunted the message. According to the court, this equivocation made the apology “too slippery,” and thus, “non-compliant” with the original order. The court has ordered Apple to rewrite the apology, in 11-point font, and keep in on their homepage until December 14, 2012. They have 24 hours to remove to “apology” and 14 days to get a new one online.
Judge Robin Jacob commented:
“I’m at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this. That is a plain breach of the order.”
Here is the original apology, which was more of an insult to Samsung than a true apology:
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.
UPDATE 11/14/12: UK Court of Appeal Judge Robin Jacob has decided that because of Apple’s actions, it must pay all of Samsung’s legal fees. Jacob’s full ruling was a scathing attack on Apple, saying the company outright disobeyed orders. In one particularly harsh line, he said Apple demonstrated an entire “lack of integrity” and that he hoped the rest of the company was not the same way.
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