A UK judge has handed Samsung a victory in its court battle with Apple over design similarities between its Galaxy Tab line and the Cupertinian iPad – but for a reason sure to rankle the Korean manufacturer's design department.
Speaking of Samsung's fondleslabs, UK High Court Judge Colin Birss ruled, "They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool."
Sometimes being the coolest kid on the block has its disadvantages – and it appears that Birss is quite the Apple fanboi. "The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking," he ruled. "The design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design."
At the heart of Birss' ruling, however, is not mere coolness. From his point of view, Samsung is not copying the iPad; instead, both devices are members of the same family. "The front view of the Apple design takes its place amongst its kindred prior art," Birss said, citing such pre-existing tablet devices as those from Flatron, Bloomberg 1 and 2, Ozolins, Showbox, and Wacom.
"They are not identical to each other but they form a family," Birss ruled, noting that "From the front both the Apple design and the Samsung tablets look like members of the same, pre-existing family."
Of the Samsung Galaxy Tab devices, he said, "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."
Apple, as might be guessed, disagrees with the ruling. "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad," an Apple spokesman told Reuters. "This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property."
Samsung believes that Apple's legal wrangling is hurting the industry. "Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs," the company said in a statement, "innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited."
The UK dustup is just one of many in which Apple is attempting to halt Galaxy Tab sales due to what it argues is Samsung's infringing design. Just last week, for example, a US judge denied Samsung's appeal to stay an injunction that had been placed on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in late June, preventing its sale in the States. Similar legal action is also underway in Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
Birss gave Apple 21 days to appeal his ruling. The Reg, however, humbly suggests to those in the corner offices at 1 Infinite Loop who make such decisions to strongly consider forgoing further action.
After all, such petty bickering is most definitely uncool. ®