Imagine one of the biggest brands in the world ordered to publicly acknowledge their wrongdoing and submit an apology to their competitor. Apple was recently ordered by a UK court to place a notice on its website and other publications to correct the damaging impression that Samsung created a copycat of Apple’s iPad. Apple appealed to a judge’s ruling that Samsung did not infringe upon its design and lost this appeal. However, Apple issued a statement that was less than apologetic.
Apple took the order from the judge and turned the court’s statements into a promotion for themselves. The statement begins with Apple explaining that the court ruled that Samsung did not copy their design for the iPad. However, after the first paragraph, things take a different turn. Apple copied two direct quotes from the court, and placed it into their public apology statement.
“The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking. Overall it has undecorated flat surfaces with a plate of glass on the front all the way out to a very thin rim and a blank back. There is a crisp edge around the rim and a combination of curves, both at the corners and the sides. The design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design.”
“The informed user’s overall impression of each of the Samsung Galaxy Tablets is the following. From the front they belong to the family which includes the Apple design; but the Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”
The tech press in the U.K. and the U.S. took this statement and ran with it, publishing many articles and blog posts on the response. Apple used the court’s exact words to issue their “non-apology.” Some argue that Apple is right to defend their brand, while others say the company is acting childish. But should Apple really be blamed for protecting the integrity of their brand in the first place? Protecting brand equity is perhaps the most important thing a company can do to continue to be successful.
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