Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) won a legal ruling after a U.K. judge said its Galaxy tablets aren’t “cool” enough to be confused with Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iPad.
The design for three Galaxy tablets doesn’t infringe Apple’s registered design, Judge Colin Birss said today in London in a court fight between the world’s two biggest makers of smartphones. Consumers aren’t likely to get the tablet computers mixed up, he said.
The Galaxy tablets “do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design,” Birss said. “They are not as cool.”
Apple is fighting patent lawsuits around the globe against rivals including HTC Corp. (2498) and Samsung as it competes for dominance of the smartphone and tablet computer markets. The firms have accused each other of copying designs and technology in mobile devices. Together, Samsung and Apple make more than half of the smartphones sold worldwide, according to IDC, a Framingham, Massachusetts-based market researcher.
Samsung said the judgment affirms its position that the Galaxy doesn’t infringe Apple’s design rights.
“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,” Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said in an e-mailed statement.
“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an e-mailed statement that didn’t specifically address the ruling. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property.”
Samsung asked the U.K. court to rule that its Galaxy tablets weren’t too similar to products created by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and design chief Jonathan Ive, according to today’s judgment. Apple filed a counter-claim.
The judge found that Samsung’s products were distinctive because they were thinner and had “unusual details” on the back. He gave Apple 21 days to appeal.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has sought court orders in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere seeking to block Samsung from selling its tablets.
Samsung has been ordered to stop selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S. until a patent-infringement trial can be held. An order that it also stop selling its newest Galaxy Nexus smartphone was temporarily put on hold last week while an appeals court considers Samsung’s petition to have the ban lifted.
The case is Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited & Anr v. Apple Inc., High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC11C03050.
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