Samsung ‘not as cool’ ruling upheld

Posted: 19th October 2012

Although Samsung Galaxy tablet computers may be ‘not as cool’ as an iPad they are nevertheless original and do not infringe a community design registered by Apple Inc. in 2004, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court dismissed an appeal by Apple against a judge’s ruling that three versions of the Galaxy are so much thinner than the prototype tablet featured in the registered design that they do not infringe. The judge’s view that the Samsung tablets ‘do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity’ of the Apple design and are ‘not as cool’ was specifically approved by the court.Galaxy

Despite ‘immense concerns’ expressed by Apple at having to perform what it viewed as ‘a public grovel’, the court went on to order that it must publish a notice, giving the result of the case, in the Financial Times and the specialist technology press. The notice will make clear that there is no injunction in force anywhere in Europe protecting registered design No. 000181607-0001.

Sir Robin Jacob, sitting with Lord Justice Longmore and Lord Justice Kitchin, emphasised that the issue of whether the design had been infringed did not involve any question of copying. The design had been registered ‘an aeon ago in terms of computers’ and was noticeably different from modern iPads.

Ruling in favour of Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited, the judge said: ‘If the registered design has a scope as wide as Apple contends it would foreclose much of the market for tablet computers. Alterations in thickness, curvature of the sides, embellishments and so on would not escape its grasp. Legitimate competition by different designs would be stifled.’