Apple ‘Sentenced’ to Letter-Writing

I’ve always enjoyed hearing about judges who use unusual remedies to make a point. One well-publicized case involved sentencing some kids who vandalized veterans’ graves to watch the movie Saving Private Ryan.

{complink 379|Apple Inc.} is facing one such sentence in the UK: a judge is requiring that Apple publish a notice on its Website stating {complink 4750|Samsung Corp.} did not infringe on Apple’s iPad patent, Bloomberg reports:

    As well as Apple’s website, the company must pay for notices in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, Guardian Mobile magazine, and T3, according to a draft copy of the order provided by Samsung’s lawyers.

One of the reasons cited for this measure is Apple’s widespread use of patent law as a means to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy tablet around the globe. But it’s a backhanded victory for Samsung: the justice said the Galaxy couldn’t be confused with the iPad because it is not as “cool.”

In another twist, the judge denied Samsung’s request that Apple be blocked from making public statements about the Galaxy. Apple is entitled to its opinion, he said.

This is Apple’s second comeuppance in as many weeks: Last week, Apple withdrew from the EPEAT environmental ratings organization, only to return several days later. (See: Apple’s EPEAT Fiasco.) Apple was roundly criticized by customers and environmentalists alike, and Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, signed a letter of explanation that for Apple rated as an apology.

The whole Apple-Samsung legal saga lapsed into silliness several lawsuits ago. Experts’ examination of the Galaxy’s and iPad’s designs show significant differences, yet infringement accusations require a defense and, apparently, several countersuits. Although the UK judge probably didn’t intend to set a precedent, it's possible the “uncool defense” will soon start cropping up in the legal lexicon.

In the meantime, did the “I will not…” punishment work for you in grade school? Or would you do the same thing again?

30 comments on “Apple ‘Sentenced’ to Letter-Writing

  1. Ariella
    July 19, 2012

    My daughter reports that certain teachers require apology letters. But she doesn't mind writing them, (rather like Anne in Anne of Green Gables ) finding in them an outlet for creativity. 

  2. Clairvoyant
    July 19, 2012

    I like the judge's decision on this. Instead of just ending the case by stating that Samsung did nothing wrong, there is actually an outcome against the accusing company. More outcomes should be like this, with companies taking responsibility for their actions, instead of always trying to battle other companies in court to get the upper hand in the marketplace.

  3. _hm
    July 19, 2012

    The judge looks more prejudiced.

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    July 19, 2012

    @_hm: who (or what) is the judge prejudiced against? Even though Samsung “won,” he clearly likes Apple's product. There is an odd kind of balance there…

  5. ahdand
    July 20, 2012

    This is something which motivates apple I guess. Its a factor which should be looked very closely and a factor which should be improved for sucessability

  6. _hm
    July 20, 2012

    @Barbara: Judge crosses boundry of his authority and get involved in his personal opinion. This is not good for Biritish judiciary.


  7. prabhakar_deosthali
    July 21, 2012

    This reminds me of our teacher whose poular scolding phrase to any errant student was

    ” expletives  ***, ***,***, I told you this 20 thousand, 2 two hundred tewnty two times and….”

    And the whole class would complete the sentence “.. and this is one omore time I am telling you”

    Such “sentences”  loose their edge  if overused.

    As far the judge is concerned , it is not clear under which section of the law he odered such a sentence.


  8. itguyphil
    July 22, 2012

    Maybe this will send a humbling lesson to all the patent trolls flooding the courtrooms!

  9. Ariella
    July 22, 2012

    @pocharle That would be a positive result.

  10. Mr. Roques
    July 23, 2012

    How about make Apple allow any person that bought an iPad (while the rule was in place) to be allowed to return it without a fee, if they switch to Samsung?

  11. Daniel
    July 23, 2012

    When a particular brand or technology becomes so popular, such issues can be happen. Most of the other things are get unnoticed. Now the game war is between Apple and Samsung, so what's the benefit a customer can get it out from that.

  12. Daniel
    July 23, 2012

    Roques, I think it's a policy addressed by the service provider. Since the service is attached with the devices, service peoples have to take care about such issues.

  13. SunitaT
    July 23, 2012

    One of the reasons cited for this measure is Apple's widespread use of patent law as a means to block sales of Samsung's Galaxy tablet around the globe.

    @Barbara, thanks for the post. I think Apple has all the right to block sales of Samsung Galaxy if it thinks that Apple patent is being violated. So the question should be whether Samsung has violated any Apple-patent's rather than whether apple was right in blocking the sales of samsung tablet.

  14. SunitaT
    July 23, 2012

    Maybe this will send a humbling lesson to all the patent trolls flooding the courtrooms!

    @pocharle, I am not sure if this verdict will have much of an impact. Different courts interpret the cases in different way. Infact Apple has won the case against samsung in many different courts so may be they have the option to approach higher court.

  15. Susan Fourtané
    July 23, 2012

    Hi, Barbara 

    But it's a backhanded victory for Samsung: the justice said the Galaxy couldn't be confused with the iPad because it is not as “cool.””

    When I knew about the judge saying that there was not such patent infringement because Samsung tablet's design was not as creative and cool as Apple's, I thought that it was a great marketing statement for Apple: even the law had noticed that Apple's tablet is better. Therefore, there is no patent issue. 

    So, from the marketing point of view, it was a victory for Apple, not for Samsung. 


  16. Susan Fourtané
    July 23, 2012

    Sententencing kids: 

    Sentencing kids to watch Saving Private Ryan for vantalizing veterans' graves sounds like an educative sentence. It makes sense. The kids may think about something, if not now, later on in their lives. What was the other option, send them to prison to develop more negative personalities and end up with mental issues, and physical abuse, maybe? 

    Sentencing Apple as if it were a kid:

    On the other hand, requiring Apple to publish a notice on its Website stating Samsung didn't infringe on Apple's iPad patent sounds ridiculous. It doesn't make sense. To me, this sounds more like the judges are already tired of these continuing, never-ending patent issues. 



  17. Anna Young
    July 23, 2012

     @Mr Roques, It'll be an interesting switch over. As it appears in this case the Judge clearly shows preference for Apple's ipad.

  18. Anna Young
    July 23, 2012

     @Susan, I agree, the judgement served in this case is absolutely pointless. Could it be that the courts are signalling to these companies to get their acts together over unnecessary patent law suits? (It's almost like squabbling little children).

  19. Susan Fourtané
    July 24, 2012

    Hi, Anna 

    Yes, it could be. It could also be that the courts are getting lazy. Maybe they are seeing an easy way out by sentencing companies or people to just post statements on their Websites or status updates for X number of days on social media networks to get rid of them fast. Public exposure, and ridiculizing publicly seems to be the new way of dealing with everything. 


  20. itguyphil
    July 25, 2012

    It'd be nice but I don't really expect it to make much of a difference. There is so much money tied up in even taking these cases in front of a judge (pre-judegement). So those that have built careers on it won't be perturbed much.

  21. itguyphil
    July 25, 2012

    To the best of my knowledge, Apple is not a company with the best of return policies. If not best, not very easy.

  22. itguyphil
    July 25, 2012


    Excellent mention. There's this point as well. Laws in this nation are bound by so many different measures that one judge can easily interpret another judge's ruling as 'incorrect'. So with enough of that and a lengthy appeals process, the same case can end up being dragged through the dockets repeatedly.

  23. Anna Young
    July 26, 2012

    You're absolutely correct Susan. The courts are overwhelmed. I think  the only solution to accelerate the process of delivering judgements as it appears, I'm afraid is whichever seemed fit- sentencing Apple to letter writing is low (shameful).

  24. Susan Fourtané
    July 30, 2012

    Hi, Anna 

    I haven't been successful in thinking of a good reason why a judge would have thought that letter writing was going to be useful other than trying to make the manufacturers think it twice before suing a competitor. 


  25. bolaji ojo
    July 30, 2012

    Don't let this news die! Did Apple write the letter? Or are they appealing the verdict and may get off the hook?

  26. Susan Fourtané
    July 31, 2012

    Bolaji! 😀 I was thinking just the same when I replied to Anna. I was wondering about what Apple finally did. I'll see if I find it today. 


  27. Ashu001
    July 31, 2012


    Let's just say People can go nuts anytime!!!


  28. Mr. Roques
    August 28, 2012

    Well, patent-wars won't help the user or innovation… something should be done about it.

  29. Mr. Roques
    August 28, 2012

    Well, its warranty system is very efficient… expensive but it works. Have you had bad luck with them?

  30. itguyphil
    August 29, 2012

    I've heard some horror stories. My brother paid $600 to get a hard drive replaced. Sounds a little outrageous to me!

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