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I was taken aback and, I admit, somewhat intrigued by Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) seemingly adolescent refusal to post a proper apology to its archrival Samsung, as it was ordered to by a U.K. court last July.
Apple had originally asked the British courts to ban the sale of Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, a request that backfired. The judge in that trial ruled last July 9, in a kind of left-handed compliment to Samsung, that there was no copycatting because the Korean company's devices:
... do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool. The overall impression produced is different.
As a penalty for losing that case, the court told Apple to publish on its U.K. website, as well as in British newspapers, a notice that Samsung had not infringed upon the iPad design.
Apple appealed the ruling but lost. It then complied with the demand to publish the apology to Samsung -- only to find its mea culpa did not meet the standards of the appeals court, which then ordered Apple to replace the offending notice with one acknowledging the original was "untrue" and "incorrect."
Sir Robin Jacob, the appeals court judge, was aghast. "I'm at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this," he said. "That is a plain breach of the order."
But now it's our turn to be shocked -- not at Apple, but at Jacob.
Thanks to patent expert Florian Mueller, writer of the FOSS Patents blog, we learn that this judge, who said that Apple had shown a "lack of integrity" in the Samsung case, has put himself in a position that seems to shout "conflict of interest."
Jacob, we learn from Mueller, is now working on behalf of Samsung as an expert in a patent infringement complaint brought before the U.S. International Trade Commission by Ericsson against Samsung.
Ericsson, coincidentally, is seeking to have certain Samsung mobile devices, including Galaxy Tabs, banned from being imported to the U.S.
As Mueller points out, it is doubtful that Jacob was working for Samsung during Apple's appeal or has done anything illegal, and that as a now-retired judge he is well within his rights to work for whomever. But some things just don't feel right, and this is one of them.
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