July 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM ET
An ongoing global dispute between Apple and Samsung took an entertaining turn Monday, when a British judge ruled that Samsung's tablets did not infringe on Apple's design patents, as he put it, because "they are not as cool."
It's a Pyrrhic victory for Samsung: they are plainly the winner in this chapter of the legal battle (Judge Colin Birss' decision means Samsung can sell its Galaxy Tab devices in the United Kingdom), but must suffer the ignominy of a firmly worded legal document concluding that Apple's products are cooler.
The judge's opinion (PDF) is far from glib, though; his comments run to nearly 40 pages in describing and comparing the iPad, Galaxy Tabs, and a number of other tablet devices, new and old. The "cool" statement at the end is not said lightly, but sums up a number of observations, for instance, the minimalist front design and simple color scheme of the iPad. Having a logo and buttons on the front, ports on the side, and details on the back may not be cool design choices, though they are real design decisions that set the devices apart.
It is not the end for the Apple-Samsung feud, of course: there are many more suits in many other countries yet to be settled, including a very serious ban on Galaxy Tab imports here in the U.S. The justice system and sensibilities of judges may differ from country to country, but a strong decision like this may tip the scales in Samsung's favor.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.