By Dennis Crouch

Samsung v. Apple, [2012] EWCA Civ 1430

The concluding line of Sir Robin Jacob’s opinion reads as follows: “I hope that the lack of integrity involved in this incident is entirely atypical of Apple.” Apart from misleading the court on several fronts, Apple had failed to comply with the notice-of-loss publication required by the court. In the underlying decision, the UK court found that Samsung’s Galaxy devices do not infringe Apple’s iPad related design right. And, because the court was sitting in its role as a European design court, the decision has Pan-European effect. Because of the loss-of-reputation that the lawsuit has caused to Samsung, the court ordered Apple to publish the a notice as follows:

On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that [Samsung's] Galaxy Tablet Computers, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s Community registered design No. 0000181607-0001. A copy of the full judgment of the High Court is available from [link]

That Judgment has effect throughout the European Union and was upheld by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales on 18th October 2012. A copy of the Court of Appeal’s judgment is available from [link]. There is no injunction in respect of the Community Registered Design in force anywhere in Europe.

Instead of publishing that exact notice, Apple took a much more ballsy approach and published the following notice on its website:

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 wilfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.

Apple has now corrected its website and will be paying additional fees to Samsung.

Read the full UK decision here http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2012/1430.html.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “

  1. Robin Jacob was also more than likely unamused by Apple’s talk of “patents” in a registered design infringement case.

  2. The addenda introduced by Apple to the statement ordered by the court clearly came directly from Apple HQ in California, as they speak of “this patent” and “design and utility patents”. There is of course no such thing as a “design patent” in the UK or the EU, we call them “registered designs”, and this case revolved around one such registered design.
    Lesson to US companies: please don’t try this sort of shenanigans without asking your local counsel to review what you are doing. Otherwise you may find yourself not just in legal trouble, but also quite red-faced.

  3. link to ipkitten.blogspot.de

    Readers interested in this ongoing story might enjoy the running thread on this other blog, about how Apple buried the Notice it was required to publish, at a location on its website where nobody would notice it. Link above.

  4. The objective of the order was to clear the idea that Samsung product was restricted inany way in Europe because of this patent. Apple first statement was intentended to confuse. No wonder the judge wasn’t pleased.

  5. Interesting. So their quoting from the opinion (which is what that text was) to reinforce that the Apple and Samsung designs are different were considered too much swagger? I see why they did it, I see why it would annoy Samsung, but I don’t why it would be considered not complying with the court order.

  6. Max,

    To amplify, this from the original opinion:

    “The registered design is not the same as the design of the iPad. It is quite a lot different. For instance the iPad is a lot thinner, and has noticeably different curves on its sides. There may be other differences – even though I own one, I have not made a detailed comparison. Whether the iPad would fall within the scope of protection of the registered design is completely irrelevant. We are not deciding that one way or the other. This case must be decided as if the iPad never existed.”

    The design patent apparently did not, in point of fact, cover the product, otherwise the result of identical copying would have or should have resulted in an infringement.

    The fault here, if anything, is in Apple’s patent department in not properly protecting its IP.

  7. Readers, please note in particular that the comparison the court made is the one the law requires, between the Apple Design Registration (even if it is a poor thing) and the accused Samsung product.

    Now read the Apple press release, saying inter alia that the comparison the court made was between the respective Apple and Samsung products.

    No wonder the judge was not amused.

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