In the complicated world of intellectual property litigation, sometimes a loss is a win.
Just ask Apple, which failed to convince a UK high court judge to ban sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
According to Judge Colin Birss, Samsung’s design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 isn’t close enough to that of the iPad to warrant an import ban. While noting specific differences between the two devices, for Birss, it really came down to one thing: the Galaxy Tab is “not as cool.”
Yes, the judge actually said that, handing Apple its latest defeat in the UK courts as it attempts to block the sale of smartphones and tablets made by competitors.
Samsung, not surprisingly, was happy. But it also warned that Apple’s penchant for litigation was a threat to competition and consumers. In a statement, the company claimed:
Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited.
For proof of the later, one need look no further than recent court rulings in the United States, which saw sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus halted. An appeals court has since lifted the Galaxy Nexus ban, but the ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is available in the UK, remains.
Despite an unfavorable judgment, which Apple will almost certainly appeal, Apple still believes Samsung and other competitors are copycats. The company issued a statement, which read in part:
…blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.
It’s an interesting statement because ideas in and of themselves aren’t subject to protection. But even so, given that Samsung cited multiple instances of prior art in its UK battle, it would appear that Apple simply isn’t capable of recognizing ideas it didn’t come up with.
With this in mind, expect Apple’s lawsuits to keep coming, no matter how embarrassing they are for Apple. Which, in turn, means one thing: Apple’s products will continue to look a lot cooler than the company itself.