In posting an apology to Samsung on its website, Apple appears to have followed a U.K. Court of Appeal order down to the letter, but also used it as a jab against its largest smartphone competitor Samsung.
On Friday morning, Apple posted a small link at the bottom of its U.K. homepage. The link read “Samsung/Apple UK judgement” and went to a page that had the language that the U.K. courts required Apple to publish. The U.K. courts--likely concerned about Apple’s attempts to overwhelm its competitors with a barrage of media, PR, legal and marketing assaults--had ordered Apple to make a public apology on its own website and media to Samsung, stating that the maker of the popular Galaxy range of Android devices did not copy Apple’s designs.
But in true Apple style, its marketing mandarins appear to have made use of the ruling--while following it down to the letter--to promote their own products and also bad-mouth Samsung using the language from
As Forbes put it, “that Apple statement is something of a masterpiece actually. Absolutely true in each and every word and sentence and rather misleading as a whole.” AllThingsD said of the Apple post, “Leave it to Apple to transform a court-ordered apology into a rival-skewering piece of advertising… The notice does comply with the court’s order, but in the annals of recantation … well, Galileo should have been so lucky.”
Possibly Contempt of Court?
While this might normally cause judges to get livid, Apple appears to have done this carefully enough to avoid a contempt of court hearing for this. Score one for Apple’s legal and marketing teams.
The statement starts out with the first paragraph noting exactly what the court wanted it to: ”On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung Electronic (UK) Limited’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001.”
That paragraph includes a link to the full ruling, as required by the court.
But in the immediately succeeding paragraph, Apple seizes upon some exact wording from the ruling about its own “cool design”: ”The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking. … The design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design.” The court ruling, reproduced in full by Apple, continues: “The informed user’s overall impression of each of the Samsung Galaxy Tablets is the following… They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”
Apple ended its short statement with a last paragraph, trumpeting the company’s legal wins in the U.S. and Germany: “However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that
Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.”
Yeah, we’re sorry, Samsung. But not really.
Really leaves nothing to imagination, does it? You can bet that there were more than a few smirks going around as Apple’s legal and marketing teams likely got together to convert this ruling into a marketing event like none other.
It remains to be seen what language Apple will use for the “apologies” it has to publish in U.K.’s print media--also required by the court--but its hard to see Apple doing anything differently unless Samsung raises a hue and cry about this and tries to prove that the tone of the statement could be in disregard to the court’s ruling--and possibly in contempt of court. But that might require a bit of work.
Naughty, naughty, Apple. But you might just get away with this.