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Apple Gets a Break From Punishment

We are all too familiar with the endless patent disputes between {complink 379|Apple Inc.} and {complink 4750|Samsung Corp.} However, a July 9 decision by a British court that Samsung's Galaxy tablets don't infringe on Apple's registered designs has gone a little too far in treating the giant manufacturer as if it were a naughty kid.

Judge Colin Birss ordered Apple to publish a notice for six consecutive months on its UK Website and in major UK newspapers saying that Samsung didn't copy designs for the iPad. So far, I have seen no “I'm sorry, Samsung” on the Apple site. And I hope I will never see such an embarrassing statement from Apple — or any other manufacturer, for that matter. It's simply too ridiculous. The court decided last week to delay Apple's punishment, at least for a couple of months until the ruling is appealed.

As many of us had expected, Apple's attorney, Richard Hacon, appealed the decision. The appeal will be heard in October. This buys Apple some time that it might use to reach an agreement with the South Korean manufacturer.

No company on this planet likes to advertise its competitors on its Website. However, from a marketing point of view, the ruling that Samsung's tablets are unlikely to be confused with the iPad because they are not as cool is a big affirmation of the uniqueness of Apple's products. In the eyes of Judge Birss, there is no reason for Apple's claim that Samsung is a copycat.

One question that pops into my mind is what would happen if Apple decided to stop being one of Samsung's biggest customers. Billions of dollars go from Apple to Samsung. In an ideal world, it would make sense for both CEOs to sit down like adults and come to a mutually satisfying agreement. The companies have practically lost control of whose technology is whose anyway.

What could happen if the appeal were denied? I don't see Apple advertising for Samsung in any possible way. Stopping Apple's products from shipping to the UK while this issue gets settled? That sounds like a more reasonable way for Apple to keep its integrity as an enterprise that shouldn't be punished like a kid.

Was this ruling the best a judge could do, or was this a way of telling the world that the patent litigation is out of control and needs to be stopped? After all, both Apple and Samsung have been embarrassed this time by the same judge in the same court. They should join forces and spend their time and money finding better solutions to their multibillion-dollar patent problems.

Meanwhile, in the US, Apple and Samsung are continuing their $2.5 billion patent dispute in a federal court in San Jose. That is, until it's time to go back to the British court.

24 comments on “Apple Gets a Break From Punishment

  1. Anna Young
    August 2, 2012

    Firstly, I think the whole litigation process have gone potty. The courts are now challenged to keep up with these cases… In addition, generally 'patent wars' have gone bizarre. It's sometimes unnecessary. . As silly as it may sound, the judge was right to have clearly and distinctingly emphasise the uniqueness of each products in his judgement when he asserted that Apple's device is” cool”. To my mind, it clearly says why ever brought this case to court? Apple and Samsung (though both business rivals) are in a unique position in the electronic technology market and even their fan base and customers are well aware of this. So both companies need to find a way to resolve this unnecessary wasting of valuable time, money and energy and focus on something else. Secondly, I blame the judicial system. It has long encouraged and tolerated unwarranted litigation claims (common sense solution is farfetched). It's high time the systems take a hard look and review the damage it's created (now that the courts are struggling to cope with the process it's created). It's no use ditching out school children's punishment afterall these cases don't come cheap!!

  2. Barbara Jorgensen
    August 2, 2012

    Anna: love your analysis, but I particularly love the word 'potty' ūüôā But you are right–these things don't come cheap and often boggle the mind. There is supposed to be some kind of filter for what cases actually make it to court, yet there are examples everywhere of what can only be called frivilous litigation.

  3. Ariella
    August 2, 2012

    @Anna, I second Barbar's opening sentence. The litigation we have today makes the extended court case satirized in Dickens Bleak House  look tame.

  4. Susan Fourtané
    August 2, 2012

    Hi, Ariella 

    Good reference to Dickens. Indeed, this case brings several thoughts of England in the 1800s. 

    -Susan 

  5. Ariella
    August 2, 2012

    @Susan Yes, we've made a lot of technological progress, but we still need to work on human progress.

  6. Susan Fourtané
    August 2, 2012

    Barbara, 

    Yes, there should be some sort of rational thinking when it comes to what cases should make it to court. Now, with all the money and publicity around these cases, it's easy to see why they make it to court, isn't it?

    -Susan  

     

  7. Susan Fourtané
    August 2, 2012

    Ariella, 

    Indeed, but what makes human progress go forward? Technology is one answer, but learning from past mistakes, evolving in intelligent reasoning, and solving problems in a civilized and adult manner can help to achieve that progress, too. I don't see this happening at the moment.

    -Susan 

  8. Susan Fourtané
    August 3, 2012

    Hi, Anna 

    “Secondly, I blame the judicial system. It has long encouraged and tolerated unwarranted litigation claims (common sense solution is farfetched). It's high time the systems take a hard look and review the damage it's created (now that the courts are struggling to cope with the process it's created). It's no use ditching out school children's punishment afterall these cases don't come cheap!!”

    Exactly! This case is about hardware design. Let's simplify and let's say just design.

    It's pretty obvious that at some point the tablets would become similar. In the same way the different car makes are similar, collections of defferent fashion designers are similar, jewellery design, shoe design, you name it. I can think of many examples in design where I have noticed similarities in products of different designers. However, I haven't heard any of them suing another designer. Why manufacturers have to be different?

    The judicial system shouldn't allow these cases to go forward by not accepting them anymore, when obviously they judges have no solution for them other than children's punishment, which goes beyond the line of ridiculous.

    -Susan 

  9. Daniel
    August 3, 2012

    Susan, I think through this court verdict Samsung is going to get a free advertisement through Apple website. I don't know why these two giants are fighting through court for silly things. Let them compete each other with technology and if they feel something great they can also patent the technology, design etc.

  10. Susan Fourtané
    August 3, 2012

    Hi, Jacob 

    The tablet market has, by far, been a strong market. After the launch of the iPad by Apple in April 2010 the truth is all manufacturers are trying to produce similar devices, which is fine. All the other markets do the same. Unless someone designs a round tablet all the tablets will have something similar.

    There is not too much science into tablet design, is it? The fight is silly. So silly that got a silly punishment. The whole case is silly, Jacob. The case should be dismissed, as if it would have never existed. 

    -Susan 

  11. _hm
    August 3, 2012

    To me Judge looks eccentric. New trial should be conducted and Samsung should be punished blatant copy.

     

  12. Susan Fourtané
    August 6, 2012

    Hi, _hm

    Well, Apple is appealing in October, so the story will continue. 

    Why eccentric? 

    -Susan 

  13. Susan Fourtané
    August 8, 2012

     Cartoonists have started to show how this case feels. 

     

  14. Ariella
    August 8, 2012

    @Susan, just like bickering children.

  15. Daniel
    August 9, 2012

    Susan, only half portion of the cartoon is displaying. The second half RHS is not displaying properly. Any way it’s a thread for comedians and cartoonists. Let them enjoy and make others enjoyable.

  16. Daniel
    August 9, 2012

    Susan, we know that the fight is for silly reason and nothing worth for that. My doubt is why these corporate giants have not even common sense like ordinary peoples to think about it. They are simply wasting their time, resources and capital for that.

  17. Susan Fourtané
    August 9, 2012

    Hi, Jacob 

    It seems it's too big. Here is the link to the cartoon. The best part didn't show the first time. ūüėĬ†

    -Susan 

  18. Susan Fourtané
    August 9, 2012

    Ariella, 

    Here is the link to the cartoon. Half of it didn't show the first time. 

    -Susan 

  19. Susan Fourtané
    August 9, 2012

    Jacob, 

    Maybe next time either Apple or Samsung want to keep their designs secret they seal them and put them in a safe instead of patenting. That's what you do when you don't want anyone to know you secrets, right? 

    -Susan 

  20. Ariella
    August 9, 2012

    Thanks, Susan.

  21. Barbara Jorgensen
    August 9, 2012

    Humor even a non-tecchie can love

  22. Daniel
    August 13, 2012

    Susan,I think they can legally register the design, features, functionalities etc on their own name like registering the patents. So it's get a legal protection and if anybody is copying, they are entitled for royalty or share. Instead of that why such long court proceedings.

  23. Daniel
    August 13, 2012

    Susan, thanks for the link. In your response, the best part about BlackBerry was missing.

  24. Susan Fourtané
    August 14, 2012

    Jacob, 

    Yes, the best part didn't show the first time. Glad you like it. ūüôā¬†

    -Susan

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