With the patent war between Apple and Samsung raging in courtrooms around the world, it can sometimes be hard to tell who's winning and who's losing. Apple wins a battle here, Samsung wins a battle there, but nobody ever appears to be actually ahead. Recently, though, a British judge handed Samsung a major victory, but with a little bit of a stinger attached.
According to a report this morning from Bloomberg, U.K. High Court judge Colin Birss ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn't infringe on the design patents Apple claims it does because consumers aren't likely to mistake the Galaxy Tab for the much cooler iPad. Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, he said "do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. ... They are not as cool."
So, while Judge Birss definitely handed Samsung a victory, he did so in a very backhanded way. And, frankly, in a way that reflects the realities of the tablet market. The Galaxy Tab has done decently well for itself, as Android tablets go, but it has posed no more real threat to the iPad than any other tablet, despite looking suspiciously similar. For the moment, the tablet market is Apple's to rule. Every other tablet maker is stuck vying for a distant second place (a position the Galaxy Tab does not occupy). Judge Birss appears to know that, and to understand that consumers aren't likely to mistake anything for Apple's iPad.
Meanwhile, Samsung also scored another minor victory - or, at least, a temporary reprieve - in the U.S. when Judge Lucy Koh agreed to stay the injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. All in all, things look to be going well for Samsung at the moment.