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Apple advertises UK court loss to Samsung in design rights case

Apple has published a notice on its website that advertises the fact that it lost a UK court battle with Samsung over infringement of its design rights.29 Oct 2012

Apple had claimed that Samsung's Galaxy Tablet device versions 10.1, 8.9 and 7.7 infringed on its registered Community design rights, but in July the High Court disagreed and ordered it to publicise the results of its judgment in adverts in national newspapers and through a notice on its own website.

The US technology giant appealed, but earlier this month the Court of Appeal rejected its claims and upheld the High Court's view that the company should have to advertise the fact it lost the case. Apple has now published a notice setting out the fact that Samsung's devices were found by the courts not to have infringed on its rights. The notice can be found via a link posted on Apple's UK website homepage.

"On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung Electronic (UK) Limited’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001," Apple said in its notice, which included links to both the High Court and Court of Appeal published judgments.

In its notice Apple published extracts from the High Court ruling that detailed the reasons behind why the judge, Mr Justice Birss QC, had determined that Samsung had not been guilty of infringement. The chosen extracts outlined how the judge had deemed that an 'informed user' would have had a different "overall impression" of Samsung's devices compared to Apple's registered design on the basis that they were thinner, did not have the "same understated and extreme simplicity" as Apple's design, and were "not as cool".

"That Judgment has effect throughout the European Union and was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 18 October 2012," Apple said in its notice. "There is no injunction in respect of the registered design in force anywhere in Europe."

However, Apple publicised the fact that a court in Germany had ruled that Samsung had copied Apple's iPad design and said that a court in the US had determined that Samsung had infringed on its rights, in contrast with the High Court and Court of Appeal in the UK.

"In a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design," Apple's notice said. "A US jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple's design and utility patents, awarding over one billion US dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognised that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple's far more popular iPad."

A registered Community design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of the product or its ornamentation. Applications are filed at the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). Approved Community designs cover all 25 member states of the European Union.

In order to qualify for Community design rights, designs must be new and have individual character.

Under the EU's Regulation on Community design rights a design is said to be new if it differs from known designs by more than "immaterial details". To have individual character the designs must give an "informed user" a different "overall impression" from their "overall impression" from other known designs. "In assessing individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration," according to the Regulation.

Designers can obtain up to 25 years worth of protection for registered Community designs, although the protection has to be renewed every five years.

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Expertise in Designs

Our intellectual property team are experts in the field of design law which, in essence, covers the appearance of any product or the shape or configuration of any article.

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