Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) seems to be having a hard time getting the upper hand against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in courtrooms overseas, never mind in the mobile device marketplace. But is the company even losing the battle of the cool factor to its South Korean rival? What will aurthur "Fonz" Fonzarelli feel about this?
He might have to use his comb! OK, not exactly, but the "coolness" of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads and iPhones is apparently enough to differentiate them from Samsung, and an appeals court seems to agree with that perception.
A U.K. court of appeals ruled this week that it is upholding a ruling in a lower court that said Samsung did not infringe on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) design patents, backing up a lower court ruling by a judge who wrote that Samsung's tablets and smartphones were "not as cool" in terms of design as the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and iPhone.
The panel of three appellate judges wrote in its decision, "Because this case (and parallel cases in other countries) has generated much publicity, it will avoid confusion to say what this case is about and not about. It is not about whether Samsung copied Apple's iPad. Infringement of a registered design does not involve any question of whether there was copying: the issue is simply whether the accused design is too close to the registered design according to the tests laid down in the law. ... So this case is all about, and only about, Apple's registered design and the Samsung products."
In the initial decision over the summer, Judge Colin Birss ruled that Samsung did not infringe on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) design patents because the South Korea devices did not have the "same understated and extreme simplicity" of the iPhone and iPad, concluding, "They are not as cool."
Fonzarelli can put his comb away. And now that the U.K. legal system is determining that Samsung devices are not as cool as the "cool" Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices, doesn't that mean an appeal by Apple would admit that Samsung devices are cool? What would that mean for the competition between the two companies, and what would that mean for investors in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock like billionaire fund manager Julian Robertson of Tiger Management? Is Apple's "coolness" under attack?