Thursday, 15 November 2012

Hubris: Apple's knuckles rapped by Court of Appeal

The whole world, or at least quite a large part of it, knows the story of Apple's failure to post the apology which the courts thought they had told it to post, to Samsung. But there's more to it than is apparent from reading the newspapers. Have a look at Samsung Electronics (UK) Ltd v Apple Inc [2012] EWCA Civ 1430 (9 November 2012) and marvel that they ever thought they might get away with it.

As Sir Robin Jacob made clear - indeed, went out of his way to emphasise - the case was never about whether Samsung copied the iPad. It was about whether Samsung had infringed a registered design, which was not the same as the iPad, and as Sir Robin had said on the original appeal, the case had to be decided as if the iPad had never existed. The UK case was not at odds with decisions of other courts around the world - in fact, it was at one with them, which is precisely the opposite of the impression given by the Apple statement. The court awarded costs to Samsung on an indemnity basis, one of the devices available to it as "a mark of the court's disapproval of a party's conduct, particularly in relation to its respect for an order of the court." It must, indeed, have come close to being contempt.

I have read some comments which accuse the Court of Appeal of Apple-bashing. Apart from demonstrating a degree of ignorance which should deter any sensible person from going public with their views, the idea that somehow an American corporation should be able to cock a snook at the legal system of a country in which it does business is disturbing - one can imagine the howls from the same commentators if a British company treated the American legal system that way (however richly it might deserve it).

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