In a judgement that will come to be regarded as the touchstone for the phrase “double-edged sword”, a British High Court judge has ruled that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s design for the iPad because the Samsung Galaxy Tab just isn’t cool enough.
Gone are the days when judges had to be informed who “popular beat combo” The Beatles were: the ruling from Judge Colin Birss states, “The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking… the design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design.”
Summarising his findings, the learned judge essentially concludes that while Samsung and Apple’s tablets belong to the same family, the iPad is the bridesmaid you’d want to crack on to at the reception, while the plainer Samsung Galaxy is the dorky middle sister you’re forced to make polite conversation with.
“When I first saw the Samsung products in this case,” he writes, “I was struck by how similar they look to the Apple design when they are resting on a table…[however] the significance of the similarity is much reduced and the informed user’s attention to the differences at the back and sides will be enhanced considerably.”
While Apple could liberally quote from the judge’s opinion for its next telly ad, Samsung will more reticent to draw attention to the ruling. Here’s the money quote: “Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of [the same family as the iPad] with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”
Judge Birss’s ruling means Apple cannot prevent the importation or sale of the Galaxy Tab 10 into the UK. But it’s still a win for Cupertino, as Samsung finds its flagship tablet slammed by that well-known arbiter of cool, the British High Court.