I'm sorry if you were offended is the classic example of a bad apology. It can be used to sound as if you care, while avoiding any responsibility for the hurt that you caused.
Wikipedia's entry on Non-apology apology says:
- A non-apology apology is a statement in the form of an apology that is nothing of the sort, a common gambit in politics and public relations. It most commonly entails the speaker saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because a person who has been aggrieved is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution or retaliation.
- An example of a non-apology apology would be to say "I'm sorry if you were offended by my remarks" to someone who has been offended by a statement. This apology does not admit that there was anything wrong with the remarks made, and, additionally, it subtly insinuates that the person taking offense was excessively thin-skinned or irrational in taking offense at the remarks in the first place.
At the time of writing, googling for the phrase "I'm sorry if you were offended" shows up the non-apology for the CouchDB talk as the second result (the above-quoted Wikipedia entry being the first), although that post does not actually contain the phrase.