High Court rules Galaxy Tab does not copy iPad

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Apple loses second court case in a week as judge rules the Galaxy Tab should not be confused with the iPad as the Samsung devices are “not as cool”

Samsung has defeated Apple in the UK High Court after it ruled its Samsung Galaxy Tab range does not unlawfully copy the Apple iPad. The ruling means Apple cannot stop the import or sale of the devices.

Judge Birss ruled that there were two main differences between the Samsung tablets in question – the Tab 10.1 (pictured), Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 – and the iPad.

Firstly, the Galaxy Tabs were significantly thinner than Apple’s designs, “which were about twice as thick as any of the Galaxy Tabs”.

Secondly, he said the detail on the rear of Samsung’s designs marked them out in the tablet market, and that informed users would be able to tell the difference.

“They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design,” he said. “They are not as cool. The overall impression produced is different.”

Apple now has 21 days to appeal against the decision.

Colin Fowler, litigation lawyer at specialist IP firm Rouse, said: “In essence, whilst the judge was “struck by how similar” the Samsung tablets looked to Apple’s design from the front, Apple’s design had to be viewed against a backdrop of earlier designs which also looked fairly similar. That meant that the scope of protection afforded by Apple’s design was narrower.

“Differences to the appearance of the sides and, particularly, the back of the Samsung tablets, meant that the overall impression given by the Samsung tablets was different to the Apple design, and hence there was no infringement.

“Given the all-out war raging between Apple and Samsung on IP battlefields throughout the world, Apple may well appeal. The validity of Apple’s registered design is being tested in separate proceedings.

“This decision is another example of the English courts taking a rigorous approach to design cases. Whilst the iPad may have redefined the tablet segment, this case turned solely on the appearance of the iPad design versus the Samsung’s tablets and the fact that there has been earlier tablet products with a similar appearance to the iPad design turned out to be pivotal. It is a notable victory for Samsung.

“The defeat is the second Apple has experienced in the High Court in the past week when on Wednesday it lost a dispute over patents to HTC. A judge ruled patents were either invalid, partly because they covered “obvious features of the iPhone and other smartphones, or that HTC had not infringed them.”

The UK ruling also comes after a US court temporarily lifted a sales ban on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the country.

Last week Apple secured a preliminary ruling that Samsung had infringed one of its search patents. Apple has until Thursday to file a response.

 

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