Samsung executives must have had mixed feelings when they learned of the ruling given recently by a UK judge in a patent case between the Korean company and rival Apple.
Apple is fighting legal battles in courts around the world, accusing Samsung of “slavishly” copying a number of features of its popular iPad and iPhone devices in the design of some of its own products. The Cupertino company recently managed to get Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet banned from stores in the US after winning the first stage of a patent infringement battle there.
The tech giant had been hoping to win a similar ban in the UK, however, a judge at the country’s high court said on Monday that the Galaxy Tab isn’t cool enough for consumers to confuse it with Apple’s iPad. Isn’t cool enough? Ouch!
In his ruling, Judge Colin Birss pointed out differences between the two competing devices, saying the Samsung tablet was markedly thinner. He also said there were noticeable design differences between the backs of the two tablets.
Commenting on Samsung’s tablet, Judge Birss said, “They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool. The overall impression produced is different.”
At least he could see the two aren’t the same. When a US judge held an iPad and Galaxy Tab aloft in October last year and asked Samsung lawyers to point to the Samsung device, the company’s legal team had a great deal of trouble doing so.
Samsung issued a statement following Birss’s ruling, saying, “Samsung welcomes today’s judgment, which affirms our position that our Galaxy Tab products do not infringe Apple’s registered design right.”
It continued, “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 didn’t comment directly on Monday’s ruling, instead repeating its earlier assertion that it has a duty to protect the company’s intellectual property. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong,” it said.
Apple had a bit more luck in its patent battle with Samsung in the US earlier this month when a judge there saw things a little differently, imposing a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 banning sales of the tablet in the country. Samsung is appealing that decision, as Apple may appeal Judge Birss’s decision, though no doubt the company has absolutely no argument with the judge’s opinion regarding the design of its tablet.