Here’s a judge who certainly knows how to make a name for himself. Last week, Colin Birss – ruling in a British court – rejected a bid by Apple to have sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet halted for patent infringement related to the design its own iPad device.
Judge Birss decided that consumers would have little trouble distinguishing between the Galaxy Tab and Apple’s iPad. On hearing the decision, we can imagine Samsung’s UK lawyers took time out to warmly pat each other on the back, congratulating themselves on a job well done – until they discovered the reason Birss thought consumers would be able to tell the difference. Describing the two competing tablets, the judge said the Galaxy Tab was “not as cool” as Apple’s iPad.
Well, back patting maneuvers are set to resume in the wake of a new ruling by Birss, issued Wednesday, ordering Apple to put a notice on its UK website, as well as in a number of Britain’s national newspapers, stating that Samsung did not copy any aspect of the iPad’s design. The notice should refer to the ruling he made last week.
If that doesn’t have the jaws of Apple lawyers hitting the ground in unison, this next bit will – the notice should remain on the website for six months. Imagine that. An advertisement for Samsung. On the Apple website. For six months.
Stating the obvious, Apple lawyer Richard Hacon told the court, “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website.” Of course, we can fully expect Apple to appeal the decision. However, if an appeal fails and Apple is left with no choice but to issue a notice, perhaps the company can make it work in its favor by including in any such ’ad’ Birss’ opinion that the Samsung tablet isn’t as cool as the iPad.
If you didn’t know it already, Apple and Samsung have been fighting each other in courts around the world for over a year on the issue of patent infringement regarding various products, with accusations flying in both directions.
The Cupertino company has been having better luck in the US. Earlier this month, a judge there imposed a preliminary injunction on the the Galaxy Tab 10.1, halting sales of the device in the country. Samsung is in the process of appealing the decision.
The fact that judges in different countries can see the same matter so differently, and take such drastically different action as a result, is sure to be a source of bemusement for many who have been following the ongoing affair.