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Apple loses UK high court design appeal against Samsung

18 Oct 2012
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple's iPad 2 side by side

Apple has had its request to appeal a ruling, which found Samsung had not infringed on the design of its iPad devices, rejected by the courts.

The initial ruling was made on 9 July after judge Birss concluded that prior art from devices such as the Compaq TC1000 and the Knight Ridder and the difference in "coolness" between the devices meant there was no infringement.

"The design [of the Apple iPad] 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," he wrote, before comparing it to the Samsung devices.

"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," he wrote.

Apple said at the time it would appeal but a panel of three judges upheld the initial ruling.

Samsung welcomed the decision.

"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," it said.

Apple had not declined for comment when contacted by V3.

One notable element of the first ruling was the instance by judge Birss that Apple had to post a notice on its website, "in a font size no smaller than Arial 11pt",  informing people that Samsung had not infringed on its devices.

The appeal judges noted Apple's horror at this decision, which it also attempted to have overturned.

"Quite apart from the public grovel which it would involve, it had the further concern that this notice on its homepage would substantially interfere with the design and layout of its important marketing tool, its homepage," they said in their judgment.

They maintained, though, that it should remain in the judgment in order to ensure that any confusion customers may have is cleared up, in part because of the other legal battles Apple won, such as in Germany.

"Apple itself must (having created the confusion) make the position clear: that it acknowledges that the court has decided that these Samsung products do not infringe its registered design," they said.

"The acknowledgement must come from the horse's mouth. Nothing short of that will be sure to do the job completely."

The apology must take the form of a link on its website explaining about the case, and adverts in national newspapers and magazines, the copy of which will be decided on by the court, after written submissions by Apple and Samsung.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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