Apple ordered to apologise to Samsung; tries really hard not to apologise

While the American legal system was busy being crazy earlier this year, the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom decided that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series of devices did not copy the iPad. One of the orders given by Justice Birss, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal, was that Apple had to publish a notice, both on its website and in the print media, to correct its the company’s many statements that Samsung had stolen their design.

Apple’s first attempt at an ‘apology’ was a revolutionary take on the concept, where Apple really apologised for nothing, corrected nothing, and seemed to be suggesting that the UK court was wrong.

The informed user’s overall impression of each of the Samsung Galaxy Tablets is the following. 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. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”

In a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So 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.

Not surprisingly, the Court of Appeal did not take kindly to this, and ordered that Apple replace its defective notice with one that actually complied with the court order, and gave them 24 hours in which to do it. Apple did comply, publishing the following on the front page of their website:

On 25 October 2012, Apple Inc. published a statement on its UK website in relation to Samsung’s Galaxy tablet computers. That statement was inaccurate and did not comply with the order of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The correct statement is at Samsung/Apple UK judgement.

The above statement then links through to a longer explanation, but Apple have some interesting scripting running on their UK website that resizes the iPad image so that the text at the bottom of the screen will never be displayed without scrolling, regardless of the resolution of your display.

Apple’s UK website at full-screen on a 1920 x 1200 display

Apple’s US website on the same screen.

Whether the court will accept this is yet to be seen, but Apple really are trying to find the line between compliance and contempt, and I for one would love to see them called on it.

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About the author

James recently graduated law in Melbourne, and decided to run away to London to avoid getting a real job. In between long walks on the beach and eating by candlelight, he enjoys boring people with rants about technology. He has... (read more)


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543587656 Carsten Bauer

    I’m sorry, but is this an apology? I’m still trying to understand the first apology???

  • Eldouchebag

    I wonder if they will make a patch for this.

  • gmm

    What/where Exactly Is The Apology?

  • foobar

    While I agree with the judgment, Apple was never ordered to “apologise” to Samsung. An adverse publicity order needs to be distinguished from an apology order (which is, in general, quite rare and controversial). As the Court of Appeal noted, at 81: “How then does all of that affect the decision as to whether or not there should be a publicity order? The grant of such an order is not to punish the party concerned for its behaviour. Nor is it to make it grovel – simply to lose face. The test is whether there is a need to dispel commercial uncertainty.”

    The decision in the German courts created a jurisdictional issue and confusion as to the legality in selling (and potentially buying) the Samsung tablet. That was the major reason the publicity order was made.