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Judge: Samsung Products Not Cool Enough to Infringe on Apple


Samsung won UK intellectual property judgement against Apple and the equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the judge.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Samsung (SSNLF) finally won an intellectual property fight with Apple (AAPL), but it probably isn't the sort of victory that the Korean company had hoped for.

British high-court judge Colin Birss ruled that Apple cannot claim that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10 infringes on its design of the iPad and refused to grant an injunction against importing the devices into the UK.

His logic? Samsung's offerings "do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design," the judge said. "They are not as cool."

Apple and Samsung are in a global legal battle, each spending billions to try to stop the other from selling competing products. Apple has repeatedly claimed Samsung's designs are just cheap knockoffs of the iPad and iPhone.

"Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited," Samsung told Bloomberg News.
Just over a week ago, a San Diego judge granted Apple a rare injunction against the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the phone that offers a "pure" Android experience that Google (GOOG) designers intended. One of the seemingly needling design details in question is the "slide to unlock" feature.

Especially in the tablet market, Apple's global dominance is clear. According to Display Search, Apple shipped 13.6 million iPads in just the first quarter of this year, accounting for a whopping 62.8% of the global tablet market. Samsung was a distant second with 1.6 million shipments. Amazon (AMZN) sold just under one million, and Research In Motion (RIMM) and Asus just barely have a toehold in the market.

Apple's real target seems to be Google's Android, against which the late Steve Jobs vowed "thermonuclear war."

"Our lawsuit is saying, 'Google you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,'" Jobs said, according to Walter Isaacson's biography. "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product."

Recently, in one of the intellectual property proxy wars between Apple and Google, the prolific federal judge Richard Posner threw out the case in which Apple sued for an injunction against Motorola (now a subsidiary of Google) products for similar reasons.

Posner, a Reagan appointee who also teaches at the University of Chicago, said that the case reminds him of the broken nature of the patent system in which companies weaponize the legal system, using it as an alternative to markets to attack rivals. It isn't even clear to him whether patents are really helping innovation especially in the case of software.

"It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries," he said.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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