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.