Apple must run ads saying Samsung didn't copy iPad

Jul 19, 2012
David Cairns

US tech giant to eat humble pie by UK judge after losing copyright infringement action

APPPLE'S PIE of the day in its staff canteen must be humble flavour: it's being forced to publish humiliating adverts saying Samsung did not copy its iPad design – and one of them must stay visible on Apple's own site for six months.

A British judge, Colin Birss, has instructed the tech giant to place the adverts exonerating the South Korean firm in UK newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Financial Times, and on its UK website.

The adverts follow Birss's ruling earlier this month that Samsung had not infringed Apple's copyright after the US company took its rival to court over the Galaxy tablet, which it claimed was a rip-off of its innovative iPad.

Samsung's victory was hailed as Pyrrhic because, in his ruling, Birss claimed there was no way Samsung could be said to have copied Apple because Apple's iPads were so much "cooler" than Samsung's clunky efforts.

The new ruling relating to the adverts was made on 18 July, according to The Guardian: nine days after Birss reached his decision that Samsung's products were too uncool for school.

In the meantime, Apple had indulged in a little triumphalism, with a statement saying: "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging.

"This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."

So it is tempting to conclude the adverts are a slap-down for Apple's cocky reaction to losing its case – even though Birss has defended the tech firm's right to disagree with his ruling, refusing requests from Samsung to block such comments.

There was amazement from tech writers and commentators today, with many finding it hard to believe that the adverts would actually go ahead. Writing on Beta News, Wayne Williams said the adverts "would be a major blow" to Apple. He added: "Apple is unusually image conscious, after all."

"Ouch!" wrote Twitter user @luzsalemv, "This is humiliating for Apple." "Embarrassing much?" asked @TechUpdates01. "Bad Apple!" said @Cesar_Vieira21, while @ben_flanagan was in no doubt: "This is humiliating."

Apple famously doesn't allow users of iPads or iPhones to view the parts of websites encoded using Adobe's proprietary Flash software, so it was with heavy irony that Twitter user @GazWeetman asked of the adverts: "Presume they'll run them in Flash?"

But Apple fanboy site Mac Observer had some triumphalist comfort for the tech firm with its suggested wording for the advert: "Our bad – turns out the Galaxy tab isn't cool enough to be considered a copy of our iPad. Good luck with that, Samsung."

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