Just occasionally the public imagination is fired by an Intellectual Property dispute.
The popular press reports the dispute as a “war” comprising a series of “battles” each deciding whether one party has has “stolen” Intellectual Property from the other. We thus have soldiers, thieves and the occasional smoking gun. In this context, Apple have just lost a “battle” in the Court of Appeal : Samsung being found not to have “stolen” from Apple.
The truth, of course, is that the court judge actually decides a much less moral issue – does one party infringe the Intellectual Property of the other? Such is the case in the latest round of disputes between Apple & Samsung in the Court of Appeal. The leading judge distilled the matter thus: “the issue is simply whether the accused design is too close to the registered design according to the tests laid down in the law”. “It is not about whether Samsung copied Apple’s iPad”.
The court held that “if the registered design has a scope as wide as Apple contends, it would foreclose much of the market for tablet computers. Alterations in thickness, curvature of the sides, embellishment and so on would not escape its grasp. Legitimate competition by different designs would be stifled”.
In short, the scope of the Community Registered Design in question is not wide enough to cover all tablet computers and, taking each case on its merits, many tablet computers will be of sufficiently different design that they do not infringe Apple’s rights. The legal test of infringement “any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression” was construed narrowly this time. A registered design for one tablet PC is not necessarily infringed by another.
We will monitor where the battleground heads next.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.