Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) was ordered by a judge to publish a notice on its U.K. website and in British newspapers alerting people to a ruling that Samsung Electronics Co. didn’t copy designs for the iPad.
The notice should outline the July 9 London court decision that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets don’t infringe Apple’s registered designs, Judge Colin Birss said Wednesday. It should be posted on Apple’s U.K. home page for six months and published in newspapers and magazines to correct any impression the South Korea-based company was copying Apple’s product, Birss said.
The order means Apple will have to publish “an advertisement” for Samsung, Richard Hacon, a lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, told the court. “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website.”
Apple is fighting patent lawsuits around the globe against competitors including Google Inc., HTC Corp. and Samsung as it competes for dominance of the smartphone and tablet computer markets. The firms have accused each other of copying designs and technology in their mobile devices. Legal battles about the similarity of Samsung and Apple tablets are being fought in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S.
Birss said in his July 9 ruling that Samsung’s tablets were unlikely to be confused with the iPad because they are “not as cool.” He declined to grant Samsung’s bid for an injunction blocking Apple from making public statements that the Galaxy infringed its design rights.
“They are entitled to their opinion,” he said.
Apple’s lawyer said the company would appeal the July 9 decision and Judge Birss granted the company permission to take its case to the court of appeal. Apple spokesman Alan Hely didn’t respond to a phone call and e-mail requesting comment on the judge’s order.
“Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited,” Samsung said in a statement after the hearing.
“The war between these two companies seems to be escalating even further,” said Colin Fowler, an intellectual property lawyer at London-based Rouse. He said much of the publicity around the July 9 ruling focused on Birss’ comments about Samsung not being as cool.
“From a victory in court they were suddenly on the back foot,” Fowler said in a phone interview. “Getting this order fits in with the context of them trying to restore the balance.”
Comments made by Apple after that ruling unfairly implied Samsung had copied designs, Samsung’s lawyer Kathryn Pickard said at the hearing. That “caused real commercial harm.”
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.