UK court grants Apple reprieve on Samsung 'copy' case, for now

UK court grants Apple reprieve on Samsung 'copy' case, for now

Summary: A week after Apple was told by a U.K. judge that it must publicly admit Samsung did not copy the iPad, Apple is granted a stay on the ruling -- for now.


Apple lawyers walked away from a U.K. court and breathed a sigh of relief, following a judge's decision to grant a stay on an earlier ruling forcing the Cupertino-based company to publicly state Samsung had not copied the iPad's design.

A London court said today that Apple will not have to immediately place the notice on its website, reports Bloomberg, giving the iPad maker enough time to appeal in October. 

U.K. High Court judge Colin Birss ruled in an earlier case on July 18 that Samsung did not infringe the iPad's design patents because the rival Samsung Galaxy Tab was not as "cool" as Apple's shiny rectangle. 

Birss said Apple had to display a notice on its U.K. website for up to six months, and post "advertisements" -- as described by Apple's lawyer Richard Hacon -- in a number of British newspapers and online publications making it clear that Samsung had not breached U.K. law. 

As AllThingsD reports, the notice should be "in a font size no small than Arial 14 on a page earlier than page 6." Perhaps adding insult to injury, Apple would have to pay for the ad-space for ultimately the privilege of publicly flogging itself.

All in all, it makes sense. The whole point of the ruling was to even out the balance in favor of Samsung to undo the damage caused by Apple's persistent legal attacks. Despite a number of ongoing and ruled-on cases in other areas of the world stating Samsung had infringed Apple's design patents in their respective jurisdiction, the U.K. is not one of them. At least, not yet. 

Today's court move should come as no surprise. If an appeal court rules in Apple's favor and Samsung is later on found to have infringed the iPad's design, having an "advertisement" of sorts on Apple's U.K. website would cause an imbalance of justice and cause irreparable harm to the company's public image. 

If the case falls again in Samsung's favor, then Apple will have to bite the bullet, accept its punishment, and eat a whole boatload of cold and frosty humble pie.

To add another interesting twist to the ongoing tale, a German court extended a ban on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the entire European Union, on the grounds that patents belonging to Apple dating back to 2004 were infringed. But Birss said in his final court ruling that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 -- as one of the tablets in question -- was not in breach of such patents.

It's one jurisdiction's word against another -- Germany vs. the U.K. -- and the last time that happened, well, let's just say: "don't mention the war," (or the World Cup.) 

Image credit: CNET.

Topics: Apple, Government UK, Legal, Patents, Samsung

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  • Hopefully we'll see the same common sense in the US when the Moto

    grand patent licensing suits come up. And hopefully google will be required to pay the legal fees of all those suing Moto.
    Johnny Vegas
  • crazy judge

    The ruling may eventually stand but I highly doubt the high court will allow the punishment to go through. Obviously the UK judge either has an axe to grind or just wants publicity. Just the ruling alone is ridiculous. The basis of your ruling is that the Galaxy Tab is "not as cool as" the iPad? What type of professional judge would ever use those words? Sounds more like one of those TV judges to me like Judge Judy, etc.
    • And who would grant a patent

      on what looks to be a hand-drawn picture of a rectangle with a another rectangle inside it? Are you serious? Have you seen the patent application? What else is a tablet going to look like. I can't believe we are even talking about this.
      • Patents infringe our rights to develop.

        As I've always said all along, patents are what stops the technology market from advancing and developing new exciting products. With this ridiculous war going on there will never be a diverse market of good products available.

        Can you imagine what the world would be like now had Karl Benz taken out a patent preventing anyone else from designing and building a motorcar?
        • The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

          "Can you imagine what the world would be like now had Karl Benz taken out a patent preventing anyone else from designing and building a motorcar?"

          I don't believe Apple is preventing anyone else from building a tablet. Using their design patent in 'defense' to stop a korean company from copying their designs is not stopping everyone else from making tablets. Maybe I am missing something and you can show us how suing one company equates to suing the other thousands of companies out there now churning out tablets. Tablets that never existed before the iPad mind you. Some like to say Apple is stifling competition and choice but when we look at the market before and the market after the iPad launch, it's clear what affect the iPad is causing. They've never been this much choice and competition in the history of tablets, thanks to Apple.
          • One company?

            Apple is not suing one company. They are initiating dozens of lawsuits - even just with mobile devices, they are suing Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, the biggest 3 Android OEMs.

            The tablets and smart phones these companies make are not in existence because of lawsuits. You are twisting remeeraz's argument.

            And what is the problem with Samsung being a Korean company? They happen to be one of the biggest, most reliable parts manufacturers in the world (memory, screens, chips, etc. etc. etc.). Apple uses them for about 40% of their iPhone parts. They employ very intelligent engineers and designers and have created some unique and innovative devices. Have you seen the Galaxy S III? Nothing like an iPhone, and much more functional. There's a reason Samsung is doing so well - they have top-notch products and decent advertising.
          • Samsung the Korean copycat and other copycat companies

            Imagine, you are Apple: few "we can do anything" companies come along and copy your designs down to the power adaptors, icons and packaging, trying to ruin your business and of course make lots of money. Plenty of other companies, just borrow your ideas, but make their own designs. How is that?

            Why Korean? Because, it is tradition in Korea and other countries in the region to copy other's products. They probably have different culture and do not feel guilty a bit, but that does not change facts.

            As for Samsung being significant supplier to Apple. I don't think this is so. But even if it is so, they manufacture things to Apple's design. There is nothing in Apple products that has been designed by Samsung and is available on the market.
            This means, that Apple could just select another party to manufacture the components to their design -- that would be very, very bad news for Samsung. First, they will lose their probably biggest customer, ever and then they will be unable to have early access to Apple's component designs.

            By the way, Samsung is actually not one company. It's an big holding structure. Apple's component deals are with one "Samsung" company, and they actually sue another "Samsung" company for being the copycat.
          • @ dorkistope

            "One company? Apple is not suing one company. They are initiating dozens of lawsuits"

            Apple initiated two lawsuits in defense of their patents and design, which is what is being discussed. First HTC and then Samsung. That's two. Motorola sued Apple first and Apple counter sued. Where's the other lawsuits pertaining to the conversation that Apple's lawsuits and patents are preventing anyone else from building a tablet? Can anyone show us proof that Apple is hurting the entire market by suing Samsung?

            "Have you seen the Galaxy S III? Nothing like an iPhone"

            Yes, which proves that the lawsuits are working. It's much easier to copy another company's designs (first BlackBerry now iPhone) than to create your own. Especially with how fast and often Samsung releases phones. Someone finally stood up to them.
          • But that isn't what Apple wants.

            Sure, as you said, there are tons of choices now, but if Apple had their way, they would be the one and only of any shape or size. You make it sound like Apple was some benevolent muse providing inspiration to the masses. They took out as many patents on as many concepts, phrased as broadly as they could, so they could prevent competition. Yes, Apple was the first, and I am happy for them. Even proud, because I used to be a Mac User back in the day, but these lawsuits are embarrassing and hurt the consumer.

            Apple patented their trade dress, but aside from a raised bevel and hard buttons, what else COULD a tablet look like? Or a smart phone for that matter? Any attempt to maximize screen size and use soft buttons is going to get the same looking device. How many monitor screens have you seen that are white when they are turned off? How many round monitor screens have you seen? Or oval? Or octagonal? None! They are all black and they are all rectangles.

            The only thing Samsung could have done differently is used a raised bezel, or maybe put hooks and barbs in the corners so they wouldn't be rounded. Apple should never have been granted the trade dress patent because there are only so many ways to package a black rectangular screen. If Samsung had used a CRT to make a tablet, it would still be a rectangle in a rectangle. (Apple wouldn't bother suing though, because no one would buy such a ridiculous thing...)
      • Ummm

        Have you see tablets before the iPad?
        • The comparison is grossly misplaced

          To be fair, if you look at the bottom right image, you will see that the design of this unit is not a million miles away from the basic look of the iPad. Although Apple were admittedly the first to really test a thinner design, there were a many factors converging that allowed this to happen.

          1) Apple designers unlike others felt that no keyboard was required.
          2) Capable ARM CPU's with low power requirements and integrated GPU's
          3) Better, thinner batteries
          4) Better heat dissipation technologies
          5) A shift to flash based memory
          6) New materials

          In addition, unlike other standalone manufacturers, Apple knows it can rely on its loyal following and huge established base of iOS/iTunes users to provide successful product launches. The iPhone was unequivocally a piece of crap and is today pretty much the blandest phone you can buy, but iPod/iTunes almost guaranteed them a fair result and I suspect the result was a lot better than even they expected!

          The actual design of the iPad product is not that awe inspiring - it is basically the clam shell screen of a laptop with the rest of the gizmos shoved inside. You can see similar concept designs even going back to the old Strek Trek series, definitetly from the late 80's, but probably even before that.

          And to be honest, if I consider that I held a 4.3inch, 200MHz ARM touchscreen HTC Wallby with metal chassis PocketPC in my hand back in 2002 and that 600Mhz GPU enabled versions of these machines were coming onstream not many years later than that, Apples so called 'invention' of the tablet has always sounded pretty hollow to everyone except Apple droolers. Things were moving along quite nicely WITHOUT Apple.

          The fact they have popularised a certain design profile does not mean a single thing. Their product is built on OTHER peoples work and in typical Apple fasion, it was not the first, but a LATE entry to the market.
          • Revisionist history

            "Things were moving along quite nicely WITHOUT Apple."

            Moving where? In what direction? You mean more tablet PCs, Slate PCs, Origami/UMPCs, laptops with swivel screen PCs - with resistive technology not capacitive so a stylus was required. And all running full blown Windows OS? Was this the direction these guys where moving to? Bill Gates criticized the iPad when it first came out by saying he doesn't see anything (in the iPad) that he wishes Microsoft had come up with. He would had prefer to see pen (stylus) and voice on such devices and keyboards. Well here comes the Surface RT tablets designed around multi-touch (fingers) not pen/stylus or voice. These guys had two decades to define the consumer tablet space and failed each time.

            Gates in Feb 2010 - "You know, I'm a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard - in other words a netbook - will be the mainstream on that," he said. "So, it's not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, 'Oh my God, Microsoft didn't aim high enough.' It's a nice reader, but there's nothing on the iPad I look at and say, 'Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it".

            "The iPhone was unequivocally a piece of crap and is today pretty much the blandest phone you can buy"

            Apparently Bill Gates didn't think the iPhone was crap. "Oh my God, Microsoft didn't aim high enough."

            "Their product is built on OTHER peoples work and in typical Apple fasion, it was not the first, but a LATE entry to the market."

            Wrong. Apple started researching and developing tablets in the late 70's early 80's, long before Microsoft and many others entered the space. how are their products built on other people's work?
          • Apple's tablet history:

    • The coolness factor wasnt the basis

      It was a small part of her justification for the ruling that the media picked up and ran with.
  • Like the photo Zac,

    The old one looked a bit mad eyed
  • How about the print on the iPad box?

    Should it also have a sticker saying that "Samsung Galaxy Tab" is not a copy of this product?
    • An sticker in this spirit might have avoided any lawsuit

      Like, Samsung could use different packaging and put clear label on the packaging and on the device itself "This is not Apple's iPad"

      Or, better yet, for any tablet sold in the UK have an ad on their website, put an Arial 14+ ad on official UK newspapers and engrave it on the tablets: Samsung tablets are not as cool as Apple's.

      If they do so, I believe Apple should agree to do the same.
      • NT

        You mean like....the name "Samsung" that's emblazoned along the bottom bezel?

        That aside, I find it incredulous that the lawyers couldn't notice the silver writing on the bottom of the bezel. I'm reasonably sure (sarcasm, folks) that the Ipad has no writing along it's bezels whatsoever.
      • - and might be a great sales argument

        Actually "This is not Apple's iPad" was perhaps the main reason why I bought a Samsung tab. And though I've been an Apple user for almost 30 years, their present harping on "coolness" gets on my nerves. So "Samsung tablets are not as cool as the iPad" would also have resonated positively with me.