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Result leaves Samsung as cool as a cucumber...
but not as an Apple!

» Posted on: 16 July 2012

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A recent Judgment handed down by HH Judge Birss QC sitting as a High Court Judge in Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited v Apple Inc considered the essential aspects of a claim for infringement of a registered design and left Samsung in the clear as their Galaxy tablet was found not to infringe Apple’s registered design as it was just “not as cool”. It remains to be seen whether the Judge lives to regret that expression should Apple go to the Court of Appeal.

The Judge analysed the specific features of the Apple handheld computer protected by a Registered Community Design, in particular:-

i) a rectangular, biaxially symmetrical slab with 4 slightly rounded corners;
ii) a flat transparent surface without ornamentation;
iii) a very thin rim of constant width;
iv) a rectangular display screen with a plain border beneath the transparent surface;
v) a substantially flat rear surface;
vi) a thin profile; and
vii) overall – a design of extreme simplicity.

and considered each feature in turn in order to give it appropriate significance or weight, addressing and weighing the differences between the design and the alleged infringement.

He stressed that what really matters in design infringement cases is what the court can see with its own eyes, the most important things about the registered design, the accused object and the prior art being what they look like.

He considered the overall impression given by each of the products from the perspective of the informed user and found that the Samsung tablet would be seen by the informed user as belonging to the family which includes the Apple design but that it did not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. The overall impression produced was found by him to be different.

Images of the Apple design and the Samsung tablets can be seen here. (PDF)

The case serves as a useful reminder of the approach taken by the court to registered design infringement cases and of the analysis carried out. It also highlights the importance of taking specialist advice when contemplating either an application to register a design or to challenge a third party design.

For more information and advice on how Taylors’ I. P. team can advise on design registration issues, other ways to protect your intellectual property and what to do if you feel your rights are being infringed, please contact tony.catterall@taylors.co.uk or call 0844 8000 263.

Copyright 2006 - 2012 Taylors Solicitors

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