Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 21 October 2012

UK Shocks Apple to the Core

There's been a raft of legal cases running over the last six months between Apple and Samsung.  It's all about design infringement, intellectual property rights and who has the coolest phone or tablet.  There's been three distinct rounds to this fight, and I suspect not all rounds were as fair as they could have been.

Apple think Samsung have stolen their ideas for a rectangular shaped smart phone with - wait for it - rounded corners.  I wasn't persuaded until I heard the corners argument, but now I think Apple have a point.  But that wasn't all - if you've ever used an iPhone, or looked enviously over the shoulder of someone who has one, then you may be aware that when flicking through pages of apps that when you reach the last page of app icons it bounces back a fraction.  No, I hadn't really noticed it until I read about it either.  Google have all the app icons half turning in unison at that point on the Nexus, so they should be OK.

Samsung think Apple have half inched some of their ideas too.  For non-UK readers, 'half inched' is Cockney rhyming slang for 'pinched' (stolen).  Obviously an Imperial slang term, I'm not sure what the metric equivalent is.

Anyway, round one of the legal battles started in South Korea where the judges decided both companies had liberally dipped into each others intellectual pockets to some degree.  To be fair, they awarded Apple more damages than they did to Samsung, but in terms of the earnings of these companies, a drop in the ocean.

Then Apple sued Samsung in a US court in front of twelve US jurors and that court found seriously in favour of the home team and damages of $1billion were awarded.  $1 billion!  More than I earn in a week, for goodness sake.  I don't want to incur the wrath of Apple by suggesting that they benefited unfairly on their own turf - after all, they now technically have $1 billion extra to spend in the courts - but I reckon they did.

Now the last of the three court cases has finished, in London.  The action in the High Court has dramatic consequences as it is applicable across the whole Eurozone apparently.  And that decision is that Apple were not wronged.  It even had the temerity to suggest that Apple may not even have been the first to suggest a rectangular shape with rounded corners.  It did suggest that Apple were officially cooler than Samsung, but I don't know if that ruling is binding. I think I may have to sit down for a while.

But here's the kicker for Apple.  They may have the $1 billion windfall from Samsung, but the UK court has ordered Apple to run adverts on its website and in selected newspapers stating that Samsung did not copy its registered tablet designs.

Apple can still appeal, to the UK Supreme Court.  Incidentally, Samsung still have the right of appeal in the US to the judgement that awarded $1 billion to Apple.  I suspect the likelihood of that appeal happening just increased by a huge margin after the UK decision  and will be certain as soon as Apple post those adverts!

$1 billion.  Core!


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