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Court Orders Apple to Revise Cheeky Apology

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 2, 2012 5:00 AM PT

The British court that ordered Apple to post a statement declaring that Samsung didn't infringe on its designs isn't happy with the way the order was carried out.

Court Orders Apple to Revise Cheeky Apology

Apple posted a statement to its UK website, but it was apparently not what the three-judge appeals panel had in mind. The proclamation has one paragraph about Samsung's non-infringement of Apple's registered design, but it follows up with some other content that irked the UK justices.

One paragraph, for example, lifted from a lower court ruling in the case, mentions how Apple's iPad is cooler than Samsung's Galaxy tablets. Another paragraph, also taken from that ruling, praises the striking design of Apple's slate.

The statement also mentions the results of other court cases in other countries where Apple has triumphed over Samsung. "So while the UK 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 declared.

New Statement Ordered

Because the statement, which has been on the Apple website for about a month, doesn't comply with the order issued by the court, the judges ordered that it be taken down within 24 hours and be replaced with a new statement in compliance with the court's original order.

In addition, three sentences must be posted to the home page of Apple's UK website acknowledging that its first statement was incorrect and a link included to the new revised statement.

A lower court judge wanted the entire statement posted to the Apple UK home page -- a requirement opposed by Apple -- but the appeals court allowed Apple to post its statement elsewhere on its site and link to it from the home page.

One of the appeals court judges reportedly said he was at a loss as to why a company of Apple's stature would post a statement to its website that was a plain breach of the order.

Another judge on the panel reportedly asked for an affidavit from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, explaining the technical difficulties that prevented the company from meeting the court's deadlines for posting the new statement to the firm's UK website.

Apple Not Groveling

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

As for Samsung, "We welcome the court's decision," Adam Yates, a company spokesperson, told MacNewsWorld.

Whether the appeals court was pleased with Apple's statement or not, even the British judges could not fault its accuracy, according to intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller.

"The court may not have been perfectly happy about Apple's statement, but it was 100 percent truthful and in the free world everyone should be free to say accurate things," he told MacNewsWorld.

Uncool To Infringe

Publicity orders in intellectual property cases are new in the United Kingdom, but they're extraordinary in the United States, for good reason, said Burr & Forman patent attorney Michael Lasky.

"It doesn't look particularly fair to me, and the whole coolness [issue] raises doubts about the judge's legal analysis in the case," he explained to MacNewsWorld. "I know of no jurisdiction which has switched to a coolness standard."

"There are very specific legal terms for what happened in this case and sloppiness of terminology makes one wonder whether UK legal precedent was applied," he continued. "How would you like a decision of a trademark court that reads, 'Hey dude, you lose because, when applying the coolness standard, they didn't cut it?'"

Lasky did recall one U.S. case that involved the theft of "trade dress" where an infringer had to post a notice in the windows of its restaurants informing the public that it had copied the look of a competitor.

The restaurant went out of business shortly after posting the notices, he said. "I doubt Apple would suffer the same fate."

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