Categories: MacWorkspace

Apple Forced To Pay Legal Fees For ‘False’ Samsung Statement

Apple has been told to pay Samsung’s legal fees in a recently-concluded UK legal case.

A judge ruled on Friday that Apple had failed to comply with the court’s earlier ruling to publish notices stating  Samsung had not infringed on the iPhone maker’s registered designs.

On 18 October, the High Court ordered Apple to run notices on its website and in several magazines and newspapers stating that Samsung had not infringed on Apple’s registered designs, in order to clear up public confusion over the dispute between the two companies.

False impression

However, the court observed that in the statement posted on its website, Apple modified the required text, adding sentences which “falsified” it, according to Friday’s ruling, which was authored by Judge Robin Jacob.

As a result Apple has been ordered to pay Samsung’s lawyers’ fees for the case on an “indemnity” basis, which is higher than the standard basis and is intended as “a mark of the court’s disapproval of a party’s conduct”, according to the ruling.

“It cannot be legitimate to break up the ordered notice with false material,” the ruling stated. “And the matter added was indeed false… for by adding such material the context of the required notice is altered so that it will be understood differently.”

In one sentence Apple remarked that “the judge made several important points comparing the designs of the Apple and Samsung products”. But according to the ruling, this fostered “the false notion that the case was about the iPad”, which it was not. Instead, it focused on a registered design that was not specific to the iPad, although did relate to the Apple tablet.

Indeed, the court made note of the fact that Apple had not sufficiently expressed the nature of the UK case.

The ruling found that another sentence inserted by Apple gave the false impression that a landmark US court case between Apple and Samsung, which awarded more than $1bn (£630m) to Apple, was in conflict with the UK decision.

US ruling

In fact, “the US jury specifically rejected Apple’s claim that the US design patent corresponding to the Community Design in issue here was infringed,” the ruling stated. “The average reader would think that the UK decision was at odds with that in the US. Far from that being so, it was in accordance with it.”

A further sentence implied that the UK case was about copying, the ruling said. “The false innuendo is that the UK court came to a different conclusion about copying, which is not true for the UK court did not form any view about copying,” the ruling stated.

“The reality is that wherever Apple has sued on this registered design or its counterpart, it has ultimately failed,” the ruling stated. “It may or may not have other intellectual property rights which are infringed. Indeed the same may be true the other way round for in some countries Samsung are suing Apple. But none of that has got anything to do with the registered design asserted by Apple in Europe.”

While the required notice was not modified in the newspaper and magazine notices published by Apple, the court noted that “Apple’s compliance with the newspaper advertisement order was lackadaisical at best”, with a gap of nearly one month before the newspaper notices were published.

The notices were published in The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Financial Times, The Telegraph and T3, among other publications.

‘Lack of integrity’

The court noted that Apple had initially demanded 14 days to replace the inaccurate notice on its website, before finally being given 48 hours to do so. “I hope that the lack of integrity involved in this incident is entirely atypical of Apple,” the court ruling stated.

Apple initially posted the website notice including “resize” code which ensured that users could not see the notice without scrolling to the bottom of the page, no matter how large or high-resolution their monitors might be. While this was not mentioned in the court’s ruling, the code involved was later deleted.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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