Monday, October 22, 2012

Designs Abroad – Being “Cool” Doesn’t Pay (Apple v. Samsung Continues)

In Europe, some new developments in the Apple Samsung feud have gone Samsung’s way.  On Thursday, a U.K. appeals court ruled that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet (Samsung) does not infringe Apple’s design patent.

The U.K. appeals court went one step further, indicating that the decision should be binding throughout the European Union.  Interestingly, a German Court arrived at the opposite conclusion issuing a EU-wide injunction in an ex-parte procedure.  The U.K. appeals court took that decision to task indicating the German court’s reasoning was “sparse in the extreme.”*  Based on Community Design Procedure, the U.K. appeals court decision should dissolve the injunction.

The U.K. appeals Court further noted:
If the registered design has a scope as wide as Apple contends it would foreclose much of the market for tablet computers. Alterations in thickness, curvature of the sides, embellishment and so on would not escape its grasp. Legitimate competition by different designs would be stifled.*

Ultimately, the U.K. appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision of non infringement.  The lower court’s decision derived some notoriety for determining Samsung’s designs “are not as cool,” and thus, creating a different impression than Apple’s designs.  (Link, para. 190).

The war is far from over, but Samsung appears to have come away with a victory in this battle.  The ensuing forays by both Samsung and Apple will require close attention, as design protection and enforcement case law in the EU is simply not developed.  There is an opportunity, for better or worse, for Apple and Samsung to write the book on protection and enforcement of Community Designs in the EU. 

* Quote attributed by – full article available here.

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