It's no secret that Apple and Samsung are warring over the design and functionality of their smartphones and tablet devices, with the latest victory handed down to Apple this summer when a California jury on Aug. 24 awarded the company $1 billion in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung. This round, however, goes to Samsung, as a British court ruled Samsung's Galaxy tablet did not infringe Apple patents related to tablet devices. The ruling is valid throughout Europe.
As a result, Apple will be forced to admit in certain newspapers and online that Samsung did not infringe any patents, and must do so in a specific font: no smaller than 14-point Ariel, according to a report in U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.
"We continue to believe that Apple was not the first to design a tablet with a rectangular shape and rounded corners and that the origins of Apple's registered design features can be found in numerous examples of prior art," Samsung said in a statement delivered to the BBC.
The ruling of the High Court in London noted that there were many similarities between Apple's iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but there were enough differentiators that while the Galaxy tablets constituted part of the same family of devices as the iPad, they do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity as the Apple design, and so are "not as cool" and produce a different impression when personally handled.
"This case illustrates the importance of properly taking into account the informed user's knowledge and experience of the design corpus. When I first saw the Samsung products in this case I was struck by how similar they look to the Apple design when they are resting on a table. They look similar because they both have the same front screen," the judgment, written by Judge Birss QC, read. "From the front they belong to the family which includes the Apple design; but the Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back."
Apple could appeal the ruling, taking the case to the Supreme Court, and despite the two companies' continued battles on the patent front, some believe this ruling would end the fight—at least in Europe. "I expect this will be the end of the line. An appeal to the Supreme Court is in principle possible but there has been no indication so far that Apple plans such an appeal", IP law firm eIP partner Darren Smyth told Reuters. "For the design of tablets in Europe this should be the final word."
Meanwhile, Apple is widely expected to release its latest version of the iPad, informally dubbed the iPad Mini, at an invite-only media event scheduled for Oct. 23. A smaller version of the 9.7-inch iPad, the Mini, will reportedly sport a 7-inch screen and a price point that could put it in direct competition with low-cost devices offered by Amazon and Google.