UK judge forces Apple to publicly state Samsung didn’t copy iPad design

What goes around comes around. Following a ruling by a United Kingdom court earlier in the month stating that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets did not rip off the iPad’s design because “they are not as cool” (yeah, it’s exactly how the court put it), Judge Colin Birss today ordered that Apple publicize Samsung did not copy the iPad’s design for its Galaxy Tab tablet.

The way things are now, we can’t help but ask ourselves was it all worth it? If this is what Apple’s copyright infringement claim against Galaxy tablets boils down to, maybe Apple shouldn’t have sued in the first place. But wait ’till you hear the best part of the ruling…

According to Bloomberg reporter Kit Chellel, Apple is expected to post a public notice on both its website and British newspaper stating the obvious, that Galaxy tablets didn’t rip off the iPad’s design:

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.

It should be posted on Apple’s U.K. website for six months and published in several newspapers and magazines to correct the damaging impression the South Korea-based company was copying Apple’s product, Birss said.

I had a feeling from the onset that Apple’s design claim won’t stand in court. But not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such an outcome. It boils down to this: Samsung gets moral satisfaction and free advertising and Apple is being punished in the court of public opinion.

Oh, and Samsung also gets to rub Apple’s nose in the dirt.

It’s Apple’s fault: Cupertino drew first blood by referring to Samsung in court documents as “the copyist”. The courto obviously wasn’t impressed.

It backfired.

Apple must now bear the consequences.

Image via Filomeno Martina

It is a nasty PR blow which will hurt Apple’s reputation and tarnish the brand.

Just what do you think a random visitor (or worse, a fan – or even worse, a hater) to Apple’s homepage is supposed to think upon reading a notice saying that no, Samsung did not copy the iPad – even though Apple claimed the opposite and trashed Samsung in public?

The Galaxy maker must be jumping with joy. Samsung also gets to enjoy some free advertising, courtesy of the ruling:

The order means Apple will have to publish “an advertisement” for Samsung, and is prejudicial to the company, Richard Hacon, a lawyer representing Cupertino, California-based Apple, told the court. “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website.”

I’m sure Apple will find a way to spin this in other direction to minimize damage. I also expect them to muddy the waters with ambiguous wording.

But the bottom line is, it’s still gonna be up there for the whole world to see as a shameful reminder that Apple sued Samsung over tablet designs and lost.

Maybe I’m overreacting and perhaps this whole brohuaha isn’t as depressing as it appears at first sight.

Please tell me it isn’t.

I’m down in the comments.

Note: my rumbling isn’t to overstate the obvious design similarities between Apple and Samsung products.