Apple and Samsung are both guilty – South Korean Court, orders both to withdraw products from shops

by Chi Ibe

A South Korean court, yesterday, ruled that both Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics have infringed each other’s patents on mobile devices. Judges in Seoul said U.S.’s Apple had infringed two patents held by Samsung, while the Korean technology giant had violated one of Apple’s patents.

The ruling comes as the two technology titans are locked in a high-stakes global patent battle that mirrors their fierce rivalry for industry supremacy and on the same day that a U.S. jury awards $1 billion damage to Apple against Samsung.

Between them two companies that control more than half the world’s smartphone sales. Each was ordered to pay the other limited damages, while judges imposed a partial ban on sales of products inside South Korea.

The Seoul Central District Court decided Samsung did not copy the look and feel of the iPhone, and that Apple infringed on Samsung’s wireless technology.

Apple was ordered to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 from sale in South Korea, after judges ruled the products infringed on two of Samsung’s five disputed patents, including those for telecommunications technology.

The court also denied Apple’s claim that Samsung had illegally copied its design, and that the shape and big display screen existed in products before the iPhone and iPad.

‘Based on the similarity in these features, it is not possible to assert that the two designs are similar,’ the court said in a ruling issued in Korean that was translated into English by AP.

But the court ruled that Samsung had infringed on one of Apple’s patents on the feature that causes a screen to bounce back when a user scrolls to an end image. The court banned sales of Samsung products using the technology, including the Galaxy S2, in South Korea.

The verdict did not affect the iPhone 4S or the Galaxy S3 smartphones.

In a split decision on the case, however, the panel of judges also said Samsung violated Apple’s rights to the bounce-back feature when scrolling on touch screens.

The ruling affects only the South Korean market, and is part of a larger, epic struggle over patents and innovation unfolding in nine countries.

The Seoul ruling was a rare victory for Samsung in its arguments that Apple has infringed on its wireless technology patents, which previously have been shot down by courts in Europe.

“This is basically Samsung’s victory on its home territory,” patent attorney Jeong Woo-sung said to press. “Out of nine countries, Samsung got the ruling that it wanted for the first time in South Korea.”

Court spokesman Kim Mun-sung said the court’s ruling was to take effect immediately, although companies often request that sanctions be suspended while they evaluate their legal options.

Nam Ki-yung, a spokesman for Samsung, said the company welcomed the ruling. “Today’s ruling also affirmed our position that one single company cannot monopolise generic design features,” he said. Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The court also ordered each company to pay damages to its competitor. Samsung must pay Apple 25million won (£14,000) while Apple must pay its rival 40million won (£22,000).

The battle is all the more complex as Apple and Samsung are not only competitors in the fast-growing global market for smartphones and tablet computers, but also have a close business relationship.

Samsung, the world’s biggest manufacturer of memory chips and liquid crystal displays, supplies some of the key components that go into Apple products.


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