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Samsung Apple Judgment

Samsung Apple Judgment

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Published by Juha Saarinen
UK High Court Judge Colin Birss ruling on Samsung vs Apple patent case
UK High Court Judge Colin Birss ruling on Samsung vs Apple patent case

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Published by: Juha Saarinen on Jul 09, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Neutral Citation Number: [2012] EWHC 1882 (Pat)Case No: HC 11 C 03050
Rolls Building7 Rolls BuildingsLondon EC4A 1NLDate: 09/07/2012
HIS HONOUR JUDGE BIRSS QC(Sitting as a Judge of the High Court)Between :SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS (UK) LIMITED Claimant- and -APPLE INC. DefendantHenry Carr QC and Kathryn Pickard
(instructed by
Simmons & Simmons
) for the
Michael Silverleaf QC and Richard Hacon
(instructed by
) for the
Hearing dates: 18th, 19th June 2012
Approved Judgment
I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this
Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.
Samsung v Apple
Approved Judgment
His Honour Judge Birss QC :
Section Para
Introduction 1Stay of the infringement case under Art 91? 18The witnesses 25The law 30The approach of Mr Sherman vs the approach of Mr Ball 60Assessment 65The informed user 66The existing design corpus 67The German and Dutch decisions 91Assessment of the features relied on 91(i) A rectangular, biaxially symmetrical slab with four evenly, slightlyrounded corners92(ii) A flat transparent surface without any ornamentation covering theentire front face of the device up to the rim105(iii) A very thin rim of constant width, surrounding and flush with thefront transparent surface117(iv) A rectangular display screen surrounded by a plain border of generally constant width centred beneath the transparent surface123(v) A substantially flat rear surface which curves upwards at the sidesand comes to meet the front surface at a crisp outer edge135(vi) A thin profile, the impression of which is emphasised by (v) above 151(vii) Overall, a design of extreme simplicity without features whichspecify orientation164Samsung’s Schedule B 176The overall impression of the Apple design 178The overall impressions compared 183Conclusion 191Annex A – the Apple designAnnex B – the Samsung tablets
This action concerns Community Registered Design No. 000181607-0001. Thedesign belongs to the defendant (Apple). Among the named designers are SirJonathan Ive and Steve Jobs. The claimant (Samsung) seeks a declaration that threeof its Galaxy tablet computers (the Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7) do not infringe.Apple counterclaims for infringement. One of the matters to be dealt with is whetherthe counterclaim should be stayed. The validity of the registration is not in issue inthis case. Samsung has applied to revoke the registration at OHIM.2.
Henry Carr QC and Kathryn Pickard appear for Samsung instructed by Simmons &Simmons. Michael Silverleaf QC and Richard Hacon appear for Apple instructed byFreshfields.3.
Samsung contends that its tablets do not infringe. It submits that when the registereddesign is understood in its proper context, bearing in mind the existing design corpusand the degree of freedom of the designer, the overall impression the Apple design
Samsung v Apple
Approved Judgment
produces on the informed user is a different one from that produced by any of thethree Samsung tablets.4.
Apple does not agree. It agrees that the registered design must be understoodproperly bearing in mind the existing design corpus and the degree of freedom of thedesigner but contends that when that exercise is carried out, the result is that theoverall impression produced on the informed user by each Samsung tablet is not adifferent one from that produced by the registered design.5.
No witnesses of fact were called. At the case management conference the courtdirected that the parties may each call an expert to address the issue of degree of freedom and features dictated solely by technical function. Each side did so.Samsung called Mr Itay Sherman and Apple called Mr Alan Ball. Each side cross-examined the other’s expert witness at trial. Otherwise the trial consisted of oralsubmissions. It took two days. Each side submitted that the evidence of the other’sexpert was addressed to the wrong question. I will address that issue below after Ihave considered the law.6.
This dispute is being litigated between the parties in other countries. The validitycase is before OHIM. In Germany the first instance court in Düsseldorf held that theGalaxy tablets infringed the design but on appeal the Düsseldorf Court of Appealdecided there was no infringement. However the German court did grant aninjunction on the Samsung tablets on a different basis under German unfaircompetition law. In the Netherlands Apple lost at first instance and on appeal. Boththe German and Dutch proceedings are preliminary proceedings. It was not disputedthat Apple has the right to start full infringement proceedings in those countries andthat the preliminary decisions are not binding. This action is the first substantivehearing in the Community of the issue of infringement.
The Apple design
The various images making up the Apple design are at Annex A.8.
Apple did not contend that either of its famous iPad products should be used asconcrete examples of the Apple design. Neither the original iPad nor the iPad 2 areidentical to the design. Whether either of them is or is not within the scope of protection would be a matter of debate. To use either as an example of the Appledesign would be to beg the question of the true scope of Apple’s rights.9.
Looking at the Apple design itself, what strikes the eye immediately is its simplicity.The article is unadorned and tile shaped. The large faces are blank with the screen onone side and the back completely blank. Image 0001.3 looks at the article in planview if it was sitting on a table: the corners are rounded; there is a rim around thewhole edge. The transparent surface covers the whole of the front face all the way tothe rim. An issue I have to resolve is the significance of the dotted lines visible inimages 0001.1 and 0001.3. The side views show that the article is quite thin (images0001.2, 0001.5, 0001.6, 0001.7) and also show that the edges form a right angle (90°)to the front face but a curve to the back face. Images 0001.6 and 0001.7 show socketsfor connectors. They are marked in dotted lines and no issue arises about thatmarking. This clearly indicates that the design does not include those features.

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