Samsung Hires U.K. Appeals Judge Who Upheld Ruling Against Apple

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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  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2013, at 11:34 PM, rh33 wrote:

    Mr. Radovsky, whether it "feels right" to you does not matter. How would the reader know what "feels right" to you means, anyway? Did the judge do anything wrong? Did Samsung? Unless the judge was rewarded by Samsung for a ruling, which seems unlikely, what is the problem? I don't see any. You should be more careful in your analysis and reporting. You are dealing with the feelings and the professional reputations of the people you report on.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2013, at 11:41 PM, marv08 wrote:

    "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."

    Fully agree!

    A court is one of the three columns of the separation of powers in any democratic society. A court that works with "free-lancers" (even if they are, indeed, experts and retired former staff) who are not (no longer) responsible to act in the best interest of a society, is not at all within the boundaries of a democratic society.

    If that gentleman would have served as an "expert witness" on Samsung's behalf... no problem. But he was acting on behalf of the people of the UK. How comes that I, a free-lance consultant, have to always sign contracts that bind me to not work for competing companies for at least a year (and I have no problem with that), and people who are supposed to be working for "the people" can do as they please (e.g. start working for a party they ruled for within less than three months)...

    I guess I am guilty of "too much ethics". Not sure I was ready for this.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2013, at 12:11 AM, disappointed666 wrote:

    My, such righteous indignation from the peanut gallery. If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...

    Whether any form of malfeasance is happening here or not, both Samsung and Jacob (as a representative of the UK judicial) knew full well what it could be construed as and it should have behooved them both to avoid even the slightest hint of impropriety.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2013, at 7:38 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    Does not surprise me at all. Samsung is a cesspool.

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