While the insanity continues in the U.S. with Apple, Inc. (AAPL) being granted software patents with little care for reason, in the United Kingdom sanity has slowly been restored, thanks to proactive London courts.
In recent weeks Apple saw UK courts order its design patent narrowed and many of its European Union software patents invalidated. There would be no bans of Android tablets or smartphones based on Apple’s tenuous, and often painfully obvious “invention” claims, the judges ruled.
The decision only applies to the UK, as in the EU patents are granted first by regulators with the union’s intellectual property body, then reissued as identical patents by each member-state. In other words, only the UK copy of the European Patent was invalidated. But the decision has a strong likelihood of informally swaying the decisions of courts in other member states, given the UK’s leading economic role in the EU.
To add insult to injury, the UK court has ordered that Apple print an apology to Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) in several major newspapers, acknowledging that its competitor’s design was not a copy of the iPad.
Samsung’s lawyer Kathryn Pickard complained at a UK hearing that Apple’s highly publicized claims that Samsung had “stolen” the iPad design “caused real commercial harm.”
While late Apple CEO Steve Jobs accused Samsung of “stealing” his company’s ideas, vowing “thermonuclear war”, Samsung has never admitted to doing such a thing. By contrast Mr. Jobs himself brazenly bragged of his company’s lust for stealing others’ work, “Picasso had a saying – ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
The court agreed with Samsung’s assessment that Apple had harmed it with lies. It ordered Apple to pay for notices in four of the nation’s top newspapers/publications — Financial Times, the Daily Mail, Guardian Mobile magazine, and T3. A draft must be sent to Samsung’s lawyers for approval.
Apple must pay for apologies in several top UK publications. [Image Source: The Guardian]
Apple must also print a notice on its UK homepage for six months stating that Samsung’s tablets are unique and do not copy its iPad.
Richard Hacon, Apple’s lawyer bemoaned the ruling, saying it would amount to “an advertisement” for Samsung. He commented, “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website.”
Apple’s lawyers of late have been open in acknowledging how difficult it is for their company to keep up with its more lively South Korean rival, commenting, “Samsung is always one step ahead, launching another product and another product.”
Sadly for those lawyers, their dream of trying to catch up by banning the competition have been rewarded with a public-relations nightmare.
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