By Stephen Eisenhammer
LONDON (Reuters) - Apple has lost its appeal against a ruling that cleared rival Samsung of copying its registered designs for tablet computers, in a decision which could end the two firms' legal dispute on the subject across Europe.
The world's two leading smartphone makers are fighting over patents, both for smartphones and for tablets like Apple's iPad, in courts around the world.
Britain's Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the country's High Court judgment that, despite some similarities, Samsung's Galaxy tablet did not infringe Apple's designs, in part because its products were "not as cool".
The decision is valid throughout Europe and should prohibit further legal disputes between the two companies over the design of tablets in the region.
South Korea's Samsung welcomed the decision saying in a statement: "We continue to believe that Apple was not the first to design a tablet with a rectangular shape and rounded corners".
Apple declined to comment on the decision.
The U.S. company has been instructed to run advertisements saying Samsung did not copy its registered tablet designs, both on its website and in selected newspapers.
Apple can appeal to the Supreme Court.
"I expect this will be the end of the line. An appeal to the Supreme Court is in principle possible but there has been no indication so far that Apple plan such an appeal", Darren Smyth partner at EIP, a specialist intellectual property law firm, told Reuters.
"For the design of tablets in Europe this should be the final word."
(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Paul Sandle and Mark Potter)