British Judges Tell Apple: "Once More, With Feeling"

When a British court told Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) that it had overreached in legal claims against Samsung, Cupertino was also ordered to post public apologies for the incident in a few places, including a formal apology on Apple's U.K. Web page, followed by similar notices in major British newspapers -- with a minimum font size, no less.

Apple did its level best to follow the letter of the order while twisting the spirit of it all beyond recognition. The online apology read more like an Apple ad than an apology to Samsung. English judges didn't like that attempt at all.

"I'm at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this," said the honorable Robin Jacob. The published notice was "a plain breach of the order."

Try, try again
Sir Jacob ordered Apple to remove the unapologetic mea culpa in short order. The original notice embellished the required apology with notices that other courts have ruled differently on similar issues, and also mocked Samsung's tablets for being "not as cool" as an iPad.

Sure, the uncool quote came straight from presiding judge Colin Birrs in an earlier stage of the proceedings, but the whole idea was to put some salve on Samsung's wounded sales. Tablet sales were halted for several months while the court case went on, and the Korean company was found not guilty in the end.

Apple said it would need 14 days to put up a revised apology note, but that request was denied. Instead, there's no notice at all on Apple's English web portal right now. A corrected version should be published within 48 hours, focusing on the simple facts of the court order -- no embellishment from Apple's lawyers or marketing experts allowed. And the extremely simple four-word link on Apple's home page must now come alongside three sentences acknowledging "the incorrect statement."

Does Apple's smugness spell long-term trouble?
So Apple's new apology will come with less spin and more visibility. We're getting closer to the intent of the original court order, though Apple is kicking and screaming every step of the way.

Nigam Arora at Forbes compares Apple's arrogant handling of the British court order to the hubris that led to the downfalls of Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) .

RIM's leaders "refused to even acknowledge the company was facing a problem" while Apple and Android were decimating the BlackBerry's once-dominant market share. At Nokia, it took a new CEO and a dramatic mission statement that would have done Jerry Maguire proud before the company even considered changing direction.

And Arora sees the seeds of a similar stiff-necked arrogance in Apple's cheeky response to English courts. "Will Apple learn some humility or should shareholders worry?" Arora wonders. It's a fair question. Tell me what you think in the comments below.

Cupertino's legal campaign against Samsung and other Android vendors is a crucial linchpin in the company's long-term strategy. But it's not the only thing that matters.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out Anders' bio and holdings, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2012, at 8:21 AM, mhonarvarthe2nd wrote:

    apple goes down every year, then jumps even higher..then everyone says it's the end of apple.

    (cash per share increases)

    apple goes down, then jumps even higher...then everyone says it's the end of apple.

    (cash per share increases)

    apple goes down, then jumps even higher...then everyone says it's the end of apple.

    (cash per share increases)

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2012, at 4:45 PM, pwready wrote:

    This is amazing. A judge rules against a complaint by Apple in a legitimate dispute where Apple has won in many other countries, and, at the same time punishes Apple for making a perfectly legitimate claim (even though disagreed with by the court). Boy, that will make everyone think twice about a lawsuit in England. Lose and you lose big!

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2012, at 5:04 PM, eibe wrote:

    Oh well, that is what you get for courtroom action. In the long run always a loose-loose situation.

    Appl should abandon its ligitation crusade and return their attention to the marketplace.

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