UK judge orders Apple to grow up and cut snark from Samsung letter

Apple is in trouble with a British court for publishing a snarky non-apology to Samsung on its website.

The UK Court of Appeal on Thursday castigated Apple for the letter, which it was ordered to post last week. The notice was supposed to clarify that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets didn’t copy the designs of Apple’s iPad, as the court ruled earlier this month, but that’s hardly the impression it gave. Apple instead dwelled on unflattering comparisons between the Galaxy and iPad and noted that Apple had won similar patent cases in the United States and Germany. (Read the letter below.)

“I’m at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this,” said Judge Robin Jacob, according to Bloomberg. “That is a plain breach of the order.”

Apple asked for two weeks to replace the letter with a statement closer to the court’s order, to which Jacob scoffed, “This is Apple. They cannot put something on their website?” He gave the company 24 hours, instead.

Here’s the original Apple letter:

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.

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