Apple’s UK Court Woes Keep on Coming

Samsung was officially labeled as uncool by a British judge earlier this month, but it’s Apple that will face the real embarrassment: it’s now been ordered to place advertisements confirming Samsung isn’t a copycat.

This particular front of the patent wars involves Apple’s claims that the original version of the Galaxy Tab ripped off the design of the iPad. Apple has the overall lead in the battle thanks to an injunction banning the Samsung device from sale in the US until a full hearing.

However, Apple lost a case on the same issue in the United Kingdom where Judge Colin Birss said there was no serious prospect of confusion. In a statement that was welcome news to Samsung’s legal team and perhaps not so much to its marketing department, Birss said “[The Samsung devices] do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool. The overall impression produced is different.”

Samsung decided to push its luck a bit after that verdict and asked for an injunction banning Apple from making any public statement indicating that the Galaxy Tab copied its designs.

Judge Birss has now rejected that argument, ruling that it would infringe Apple’s rights to free speech. He ruled that Apple is allowed to say it believes Samsung copied it, as long as this is clearly expressed as an opinion rather than a statement of fact.

However, to make the legal situation clear Birss has agreed to Samsung’s request that Apple be forced to publish a notice stating that the court ruled that Samsung didn’t commit a legal breach. This notice must be put in newspaper and magazine advertisements as well as staying on the home page of Apple’s UK website for six months.

The precise details aren’t confirmed, though Samsung had suggested the advertisements go in the Daily Mail and Financial Times newspapers, the Guardian’s mobile magazine, and tech mag T3.

The ads may not appear immediately as the judge has also given Apple permission to appeal against the original patent verdict. It’s likely it won’t be forced to comply with the new ruling unless and until that appeal is rejected.

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