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Remember how, back in July, a UK judge ordered Apple to basically promote Samsung by stating that the Galaxy Tab’s design is not too similar to the iPad’s? Well, after losing the appeal, Apple has complied with part of the publicity order and placed a declaration on the UK version its website to state that Samsung didn’t infringe on its registered design.
Tucked away in the home page‘s footer, beneath images of the new iMacs and the iPhone 5, sits a link titled ‘Samsung/Apple UK judgement’, which takes you to a page explaining that Apple lost the case against Samsung. As per the terms of the appeal judgement, Apple lays out the chain of events plainly, then ends off by highlighting other lawsuits it has won in Germany and the US, stating that “while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.” Ouch.
Apple also takes time to point out that even though Judge Colin Birss ultimately ruled in Samsung’s favour, he did so by complimenting Apple, saying that the Galaxy Tabs “are not as cool” as iPads.
To meet the terms of the court order, Apple will have to run the notice on their website for a month, and place an ad before page six in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Mobile Magazine and T3 Magazine to lessen any negative commercial impact the copycat rumours may have had on Samsung. The publicity order was upheld in the appeal because of the widespread media coverage of the trial and the “not as cool” comments, which the appeals court judges thought would have been confusing for potential tablet owners:
What was the ordinary consumer, or the marketing department of a potential Samsung customer, to make of it? On the one hand the media said Samsung had won, on the other the media were saying that Apple had a German Europe-wide injunction. Real commercial uncertainty was thereby created. A consumer might well think “I had better not buy a Samsung – maybe it’s illegal and if I buy one it may not be supported”. A customer (and I include its legal department) might well wonder whether, if it bought Samsung’s 7.7 it might be in trouble before the German courts. Safest thing to do either way is not to buy.
Of course our decision fully understood actually lifts the fog that the cloud of litigation concerning the alleged infringement of the Apple registered design by the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, 8.9 and 7.7 tablets must have created. And doubtless the decision will be widely publicised. But media reports now, given the uncertainty created by the conflicting reports of the past, are not enough. Another lot of media reports, reporting more or less accurately that Samsung have not only finally won but been vindicated on appeal may not be enough to disperse all the fog. It is now necessary to make assurance doubly so. 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. The acknowledgement must come from the horse’s mouth. Nothing short of that will be sure to do the job completely.
The judges said the aim of the publicity order was not to “punish the party concerned for its behaviour” or make Apple “grovel”, but “simply to lose face”. They allowed the company to reduce the size of the notice on its front page to just a link after it argued that the page played an important role in marketing its products and so the notice needed to fit with the existing design and could not clutter up the page.