Did Gizmodo Misread the Judgement?

Following yet another Apple-Samsung court battle, this time over tablet infringement, a ruling out of the UK has the Judges ordering Apple to make a public online apology. One of the first references I came across this afternoon, and not yet having read the judgement, was a Gizmodo post that poked fun at the Judges’ very specific directions, that Apple is Forced to Run their Public Apology in 14pt Arial font.

I thought it was pretty funny. That the judges would dictate the actual font and font size that must be used; and that Apple, of all companies, would be forced to use a font considered terribly ‘uncool’ among their legions of fans (and especially those designer types;). Insult to injury? Or maybe the Judges were having a little fun… Either way, it was a good chuckle.

But after looking at the actual decision, I’m thinking that Gizmodo has simply misread things. Here’s the passage in question:

“Within seven days of the date of this Order [18th July 2012] [Apple] shall at its own expense (a) post in a font size no smaller than Arial 11pt the notice specified in Schedule 1 to this order on the homepage of its UK website … as specified in Schedule 1 to this Order, together with a hyperlink to the Judgment of HHJ Birss QC dated 9th July 2012, said notice and hyperlink to remain displayed on [Apple’s] websites for a period of six months from the date of this order or until further order of the Court (b) publish in a font size no smaller than Arial 14pt the notice specified in Schedule 1 to this Order on a page earlier than page 6 in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Mobile Magazine and T3 magazine.”

In both instances, the reference to Arial is used as a reference for sizing. Stating that the “font size” must be “no smaller than Arial xxpt”; and not specifically that the font used must be Arial. Given that fonts differ so greatly at varying pt sizes, the idea of using a common typeface as a frame of reference makes sense.

That’s unfortunate. I was having way more fun when Gizmodo was in charge.


  1. It would have been great if the court had mandated Arial for Apple.

    And next time, if Apple doesn’t learn their lesson… Comic Sans!

  2. This part of the reasons is “cool”

    [84] Of course our decision fully understood actually lifts the fog that the cloud of litigation concerning the alleged infringement of the Apple registered design by the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, 8.9 and 7.7 tablets must have created. And doubtless the decision will be widely publicised. But media reports now, given the uncertainty created by the conflicting reports of the past, are not enough. Another lot of media reports, reporting more or less accurately that Samsung have not only finally won but been vindicated on appeal may not be enough to disperse all the fog. It is now necessary to make assurance doubly so. Apple itself must (having created the confusion) make the position clear: that it acknowledges that the court has decided that these Samsung products do not infringe its registered design. The acknowledgement must come from the horse’s mouth. Nothing short of that will be sure to do the job completely.

    [85] I turn to the form of the publicity order. No more than that which is proportionate is necessary. As regards the newspaper publicity we had no complaint about the detail of that and, subject to the wording, I would affirm Judge Birss’s order. As regards publicity on the Apple home web page, Mr Carr realistically recognised that Apple had a genuine interest in keeping it uncluttered. He proposed that instead of requiring the notice to be on the web page itself, it would be sufficient if there were a link provided from that to the notice. There are some links already provided. All that need be added is a link entitled “Samsung/Apple UK judgment.” I think that would be appropriate and proportionate.

    I think the judge stuck some road apples, so to speak, in the Apple horse’s mouth for it to chew on.

    What’s equally interesting, for some lawyer types, is the sniping in the EWCA about the conduct of the German court. Who said

  3. Well I find it profoundly depressing that of all sans serif fonts, they chose the worst, a sub-Helvetica travesty called Arial.

    Read Typography for Lawyers to understand why. Hat tip to Simon F two years ago.

    It’s depressing that they are mandated in the Nunavut Tobacco Control Regulations and that the Ontario Government, which embraced Hevetica as its font of choice has lapsed into the heretic font in its AODA Draft Policy – as Yosie observed last year.

  4. I had understood (no doubt from the movie ‘Helvetica’) that Microsoft invented Arial in order to avoid paying royalties to the people who designed Helvetica. That probably makes it a quasi-pirate font rather than a heretic font.

    Those of us in the Ontario government (at least in the software universe I am in) can’t use Helvetica or several of the alternatives mentioned on the page Simon C refers to. I can get to Gill and a kind of Franklin, but not the others.

    So a requirement imposed on the Ontario government to use sans-serif can’t really require Helvetica so long as we are a Windows world – which is not likely to change soon.

    It used to be received wisdom (back when I was teaching legal writing, 15 years or so ago) that with-serif font was easier to understand than sans-serif, because it has more clues as to the identity of the letter. It seems that this is not considered true of machines that read for people who cannot read for themselves. Thus AODA and the like want sans-serif. I see from Yosie’s post that the draft policy does not require Arial; that is used as an example of a sans-serif font:

    * Use a clear plain font; non-serif fonts like Arial are preferable
    * Avoid using a small font size; if using Arial font, use point 12 as a minimum, but point 14 is preferable; if using any other font, find a point size equal to Arial 12 or 14, for example Verdana point 11 or 13

  5. So why can’t I find the apology on http://www.apple.com/uk/?

  6. If the EWCA order is appealable (I don’t know) and the time for appeal hasn’t expired (I don’t know), then (perhaps) Apple isn’t yet required to grovel.

    On the other hand, if it’s there (but not visible)…

    Perhaps because the judgment doesn’t say anything about the colour of the font? And Apple chose a font colour that’s the same as the background?

    That’s posting. That seems to be formal compliance. Whether that’s substantive compliance is for UK lawyers to decide.

    Apple wouldn’t do that, would it? It wouldn’t be … cool.

    Or would it?

  7. On the other hand, if it’s there (but not visible)…

    On CNET:

    Apple accused of hiding U.K. Samsung ‘apology’ with code