An appeals court in the U.K. has issued a ruling in one of the many Apple v. Samsung cases from around the world. This particular appeal involved a case where Apple had alleged Samsung copied the design of the iPad with their Samsung Galaxy Tab device. Apple had originally lost the lawsuit after a U.K. judge found the Samsung designs were not as simplistic as Apple’s. In a stinging turn of events for Apple, the London court had ordered Apple to post information on their web site and take out several advertisements in a variety of publications to admit that Samsung had not copied their products. Apple appealed the ruling and obtained a stay to prevent having to comply with the disclosure. The appellate court has upheld the lower court’s ruling that Samsung did not copy the iPad and they have affirmed the need for a very public statement from Apple regarding the matter.
In the ruling, the appeal judges noted, “The acknowledgement must come from the horse’s mouth. Nothing short of that will be sure to do the job completely.” The judges did indicate a single hypertext link on the homepage taking users to the full statement and original judgment will suffice. The link only needs to appear for a one month period. Along with a statement on the Apple web site, advertisements must be placed in sources like the Daily Mail, Financial Times, T3 Magazine and others.
In their appeal, Apple had once again argued that the front face and overall shape of the tablet was key to their claims. The judges for the appeals court indicated the question was not whether Samsung had engaged in any copying, but whether the design itself was too similar. As the lower court had previously found, the Galaxy Tab devices were not as simplistic as the iPad. The appeals court extended and expanded on this concept with additional details. One of the judges noted that Samsung had decided to place their logo on the front face of their device which was contrary to Apple’s registered design which specified there should be “no ornamentation.” It was also noted that Samsung used more varied color for the device’s rear case and had a bulge to allow for the camera along with different edges. Basically, it seems the court is telling Apple that their own design incorporates more than just the shape of a rectangle with a flat face and if they were to ever want to prove infringement, they will have to show design similarities beyond the basic shape.
Samsung issued a statement noting:
“We continue to believe that Apple was not the first to design a tablet with a rectangular shape and rounded corners and that the origins of Apple’s registered design features can be found in numerous examples of prior art.
Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited.”
Apple has declined to comment thus far. The case can still be appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court.