Apple's reputation and coffers have taken a double hit, courtesy of separate court rulings out of Australia and The Netherlands. The developments further blemish the company's once sparkling reputation.
The first ruling marks a blow for Apple in its ongoing feud with Samsung. A Dutch court has ruled that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company infringed on a Samsung-owned patent relating to the way phones and tablets connect to the Internet, according to reports. That patented communications technology is present in such Apple devices as the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4, as well as the first and second iteration of the iPad.
It's not yet clear how much Apple will have to pay Samsung or whether the company will appeal the decision. The damage will be based on the number of products Apple has sold in The Netherlands since Aug. 4, 2010.
The ruling marks Samsung's first court win over Apple, though it's worth noting that the court rejected three other patent-infringement claims against Apple. The battle between the rival companies is far from over: They still have some 30 litigation lawsuits percolating in 10 different countries.
Down under, Australian Federal Justice Mordy Bromberg slapped Apple with a $2.29 million fine ($2.25 million in Aussie dollarydoos) for misleading customers over the iPad's compatibility with 4G broadband. The court accused Apple of misleading the public into believing that its tablet with Wi-Fi and 4G capabilities could connect directly to Australia's Telstra LTE mobile data network, when in fact, it's incompatible with the country's 4G LTE and WiMax networks.
The ruling doesn't cast Apple in a particularly favorable light, and the company's actions are arguably reminiscent of Microsoft's infamous decision to slap "Vista Capable" stickers on PCs that were barely capable of running the most watered-down version of the OS. Apple owned up to the misdeed and pledged to alert Australian iPad owners that they're eligible for a refund.
Despite Apple's popularity and its value to stockholders, hits to the company's reputation in recent months could adversely affect its sweetheart status. For instance, the world has seen that the Mac platform isn't immune to malware, though Apple (or its more devoted fans) would have you believe otherwise. The company has also had to deal with criticism over Siri, including complaints that the digital assistant hasn't worked as well as some customers expected.
Additionally, Apple (along with Google and other tech companies) is facing scrutiny from Sen. Charles Schumer of New York over its use of "military-grade spy planes" to gather images for its mapping service. The company has been repeatedly slammed for the shoddy treatment of factory workers in China. Going back further, we've witnessed signs of Apple losing its quality magic, including the antenna-design flaw in the iPhone 4.
Apple's rise from the boutique computer company that could to worldwide technology superstar and Wall Street darling has been impressive, but it's also put the company in the global spotlight. Inevitably, the bright light has exposed blemishes, drawing extra scrutiny from customers, competitors, politicians, and the media. If Apple's not careful about how it promotes its products, treats security threats, and deals with controversial partners, it could end up squandering the invaluable goodwill it's worked so hard to accumulate over the years.
This article, "Court rulings take the shine off Apple's reputation," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.