UK Court not amused with Apple's 'copy' notice, ordered to replace it

By on November 1, 2012, 1:30 PM

Last week Apple was ordered to make good on a July ruling to post a public notice on their UK website stating Samsung didn’t infringe on the design of the iPad with their own Galaxy-branded tablets. Cupertino complied, albeit with a cleverly worded notice that seemingly did everything possible to draw attention from the true intent of the letter.

As it turns out, that approach likely wasn’t the best move on Apple’s behalf. The UK Court of Appeal in London wasn’t amused, pointing out that sections of the text were untrue and incorrect. As such, the court has ordered that Apple remove the statement from their UK website within 24 hours and replace it with a new one that acknowledges the “inaccurate comments.”

Judge Robin Jacob was at a loss that a company of Apple’s caliber would do this, further saying that it was a plain breach of the order.

Henry Carr, a lawyer for Samsung, said the notice gave the impression that the UK court is out of step with other courts. Apple spokesperson Alan Hely declined to comment on the situation while Michael Beloff, a member of Apple’s legal team, told those in court that the comments were in line with the original order.

The notice, he said, “is not designed to punish, it is not designed to makes us grovel. The only purpose is to dispel commercial uncertainty.”

Apple's 14 day request to revise the notice was rejected. Instead, they were given just 48 hours from the time of the ruling to publish a new statement in no less than an 11-point font.

We have republished the original statement below for comparison purposes once the new notice has been posted.

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.

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