Well, that certainly didn't go the way Apple would've liked. A UK judge presiding over one of many lawsuits involving Apple products—specifically concerning the Galaxy Tab line's alleged infringement of the iPad's design—has ordered Apple to publicly post on the UK version of its website that Samsung did not copy the iPad. Said the internet, "Oh, snap!"
The UK judge presiding over the case was the same one who made headlines recently for saying the Galaxy Tab lineup was "not as cool" as the iPad, and thus unlikely to be confused for Apple's slates. It's really hard to imagine an outcome that could be less flattering to both sides. Samsung wins the case, but only because the judge believes their products aren't good enough to stand next to the iPad, and Apple not only loses but is forced to publicly declare, despite the company's obvious beliefs on the subject, that Samsung didn't rip them off wholesale. Fortunately for Apple, at least, the court did not approve Samsung's request that Apple be forbidden from restating its claims that Samsung is a dirty, dirty thief. Apple simply has to place the notice on its website. What the company says elsewhere on the matter is completely up to Apple.
The ruling may seem pretty harsh to some (and it certainly is embarrassing for Apple, even if the damage is mostly limited to the UK audience), but it also highlights the huge differences in how what are essentially the same cases can be interpreted. Just a few hundred miles away in Germany, for example, courts ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 not only infringed Apple's iPad design, but banned the sale of the tablet altogether, claiming that "Apple's minimalistic design isn't the only technical solution to make a tablet computer." I say tomato, you say ban all usage of the word tomato.
Hardly a day goes by anymore where we don't hear about some new ruling, new lawsuit, or new dispute on a patent/trademark/trade dress dispute. Hopefully, though, we can start to see an end to all these cases that seem to be so dependent on opinion that even the courts have wildly different views on what does and doesn't qualify as infringement.
Hey, I said "hopefully". A guy can dream, can't he?