Samsung ruled "not cool"

Samsung did not copy Apple’s iPad, High Court finds.

London’s High Court yesterday dismissed Apple’s claims, made last year, that the Korean manufacturer’s Galaxy Tab infringes the iPad design. Samsung’s designs did not have "the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design", Judge Colin Birss QC ruled. "They are not as cool."

The ruling is part of an ongoing global conflict over intellectual property between Apple and manufacturers of tablet computers and smartphones using Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The court found two major design differences between Samsung’s and Apple’s models. Galaxy Tabs were significantly thinner than the iPad designs, while the back detailing also distinguished Samsung’s design. "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", the judgement noted.

The judge said that it was unlikely that consumers would confuse the two designs. "The overall impression produced is different."

Samsung is the manufacturer of the most significant rivals to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Its response to the ruling accused Apple of "ongoing efforts to reduce consumer choice and innovation in the tablet market through their excessive legal claims and arguments".

A spokesman for Samsung highlighted the computer’s distinctive back design, "a part of tablets that allows designers a high degree of freedom for creativity".

This is the second defeat for Apple in the British courts in less than a week. On Wednesday it lost a dispute over technology patents to HTC. The High Court found that the Taiwanese Android manufacturer had not infringed the patents, or that in covering "obvious" iPhone features, they were invalid.

Apple did not comment on the specific ruling, but repeated its earlier claims against Samsung. "This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas", a spokesman for the US company said.

Apple has been given 21 days to appeal against the British ruling.

Not cool. Photograph, Getty Images.

En Liang Khong is an arts writer and cellist.

Follow on twitter @en_khong

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.