Apple has complied with a British court’s demand that it publicly admit the Samsung Galaxy Tab doesn’t rip-off the iPad (according to the UK legal system at least.) But the way it’s done is a masterclass of making the best of a bad situation.
As we noted in July, although Apple has had some court victories on the Tab/iPad affair around the world, it failed in a claim in the UK. Samsung then asked for a complete ban on Apple ever saying Samsung had copied its designs.
The judge rejected that, saying it would infringe free speech, and that Apple had the right to say it believed Samsung had copied the designs, as long as this was clearly expressed as opinion rather than fact. However, he did accept a Samsung request that Apple be forced to issue a public statement on its website and in print advertisements that Samsung had not been found to have breached the intellectual property rights.
That order was put on hold pending an appeal on the entire case, which was heard and rejected last week. Apple has now put the statement on its website and the newspaper ads are expected shortly.
However, while the statement opens with a paragraph confirming the judge ruled there was no copyright infringement and linking to the case, Apple doesn’t stop there. It prints a carefully selected extract from the verdict in which the judge appears to be raving about the striking design of Apple products, while dismissing the Galaxy Tabs as not cool and lacking understated simplicity, and calling them “almost insubstantial members” of the same design family as Apple devices.
The statement concludes by noting Apple’s victories in Germany and the US, concluding by saying: “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.”
In other words, Apple has complied with the precise letter (if not the spirit) of the judge’s order, but still managed to spin it into something positive and argue that the Tab is a poor imitation of the iPad. And whatever you may think about the rights and wrongs of the various court cases, you have to concede that’s a skillful piece of public relations writing.