When the US court ruled that Samsung had to pay $1.05 billion to Apple for infringing on their (apparent) patent of ’slightly rounded corners,’ ‘a flat transparent surface without any ornamentation,’ and ‘a thin profile.’, even Apple enthusiasts thought the verdict was unfounded. And while Samsung appeals the case, many are calling the entire patent law system into question.
But meanwhile, in the UK, a judge has had a different view of the case. He took a creative route to express his exasperation that the case even made it to court. His ruling poked fun of Samsung and intended to humiliate Apple. But as usual, Cupertino managed to have the last laugh.
On October 16th in the High Court of England & Wales, no one was a winner. Well, technically, Samsung won. Judge Colin Birss ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab models were similar to but had not in fact copied Apple’s iPad…because Samsung’s tablets were “not as cool” as Apple’s.
Here’s a direct quote from the ruling:
“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.”
Apple, however, lost literally and figuratively. And to show them just how disappointed he was in their litigiousness and public damage to Samsung’s name, Judge Birss inflicted his own special punishment against Apple: Apple was required to apologize to Samsung. In public. And announce to the world that Samsung did not copy its tablet design.
And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, that apology had ridiculously stringent parameters. It had to appear on Apple’s website and in local newspapers for the next six months. And it had to be in at least 14 point Arial font.
So Apple complied. But not without having the last word. This is the apology ad that the court demanded that Apple pay to run in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, Guardian Mobile magazine, T3 and other UK magazines:
And just like that, Apple won the award for the most passive aggressive apology of all time. Clearly, the judge should have extended his stipulations to include sarcastic use of italics.
The print apology that appeared on Apple’s website wasn’t much more contrite. In fact, it manages to word itself into a clever advertisement apolo-brag that basically says “Our product was so cool that it was clear to the judge that no other product could come close to copying it.” Surely somewhere there’s an Apple copywriter with a sizable holiday bonus coming his way.
This is by far my favorite tech ruling to date. And maybe now that Apple has been censured, maybe they will transfer their corporate energy from litigation to producing phones with better specs.
Apple is certainly done suing Samsung is Europe. This decision is valid throughout Europe and Apple will have to stop suing Samsung in the EU — over tablet design at least.