Arrogance & Hubris in Apple-Land

A UK court order to {complink 379|Apple Inc.} seemed simple and clear: Publish a statement saying {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.} did not copy Apple's design. Instead, Apple issued a rather tongue-in-cheek statement.

This infuriated the UK Court of Appeal, which issued the order and has now asked the company to delete that statement and publish a new one. (See: Apple in a Bind as Courts Wrangle Over Patents.)

“I'm at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this. That is a plain breach of the order,” Judge Robin Jacob said. “I would like to see the head of Apple make an affidavit setting out the technical difficulties which means Apple can't put this on” its site. Jacob also declined Apple's request to wait two weeks to make the change.

A lower court issued a ruling (which was later upheld) that Samsung did not violate a specific Apple patent. The court ordered Apple to post a statement on its UK website affirming this position. Apple did what the court ordered but padded its published statement with several paragraphs indicating the same patent had been upheld in a German court. “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,” the statement said.

Apple clearly intended to send a message other than what the court had asked. In my opinion, it was directly challenging the ruling while pretending to comply with it. Were the executives who approved this being naïve or intransigent? Were they trying to score a point, or were they just plain stupid? A court order isn't supposed to be flouted or trifled with in this irresponsible manner.

If Apple had objections to the initial court order, it should have taken other steps to make its point. It could have filed an appeal with the UK Supreme Court. If that had failed, it could have taken the case before the European Court. Or it could have simply complied with the ruling and then used public relations propaganda to make the same point. Instead, it inserted comments that were not in line with the court's decision in the published statement.

A lawyer for Apple was quoted as saying the order was not “designed to make us grovel.” But it wasn't meant to be trifled with, either, and now the company will have to grovel. The patent law system may be broken, but there are still ground rules companies must follow. Samsung itself lost a California case in which Apple was awarded $2 billion. If Samsung loses the appeal it has filed in that case, it will have to pay the full $2 billion and not a cent less.

That's what complying with the law means. If Apple fails to get this, it needs to and will hear again from the court. This time, it won't be a simple “what bloody cheek!”

7 comments on “Arrogance & Hubris in Apple-Land

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 2, 2012

    We've all seen what happens when a person or organization believes they are above the law. Bernie Madoff comes to mind. OK, not everybody who flouts the law gets what they deserve, but the Apple-Samsung battle is playing out in a very public way. You are correct in that Apple should adhere to the letter of the law and not interpret it. Eventually, Apple will start to fail in the court of public opinion, if not the court of law.

    November 3, 2012

    Out of interest's sake did Apple say anything untruthful in its statement?  It sounds like they did as ordered but added a little extra too 😉

  3. Anna Young
    November 4, 2012

    @FlyingScot, agreed Apple published a statement. OK! However, adding a little extra is tantamount to sticking its middle finger at the court's ruling. I think Apple was plainly smirking. It's pure arrogance!

  4. Anna Young
    November 4, 2012

    @Barbara, absolutely. The law caught up with Bernie Madoff and he is serving his time in prison. But Apple appears to disregard authority and give no thoughts to its actions.  I agree Babs; if Apple continues in this manner it may eventually start to fail in the court of public opinion.

  5. _hm
    November 4, 2012

    @Flyingscot: I agree with you. Apple did appropriate thing for eccentric judge.


  6. Anna Young
    November 4, 2012

    _hm, There must be a lot of eccentric judges in the United Kingdom! The first ruling was from one single judge and then three Appeal Court judges confirmed the order, reviewed Apple's “compliance,” found it wanting and ordered it to do only what it was ordered. The eccentric here was . . . Apple.

  7. Ariella
    November 5, 2012

    Aside from the court problems, some consider Apple to have lost its innovative edge:

    Apple's innovation is sputtering,” Global Equities Research's Trip Chowdhry wrote in a research note to clients. “Why is that Apple, the company that brought touch to phones and tablets, stopped just there and did not bring touch to notebooks and iMacs? Why is it that Apple brought high-resolution screens to … some MacBooks and not to all devices? High-resolution screens are a commodity today……..

    “The analyst added that he believed the company may be rushing products and lacking a viable roadmap, a fact that, Chowdhry said, possibly led to Scott Forstall's departure. “Our contacts speculate that Apple executive leadership may have rushed Scott Forstall to deliver products prematurely,” the analyst wrote. “This may also indicate that Apple may be lacking a three- to four-year product road map, because if a roadmap existed, engineers would not be pushed to ship products prematurely – especially when they are not fully tested.”

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