Apple and Samsung infringed patents, court rules
A SOUTH Korean court has dismissed claims by Apple that Samsung Electronics copied the design of its iPhone, but banned the sale of more than a dozen tablets and smartphone models made by both companies over patent infringements.
In a ruling that comes ahead of a keenly anticipated decision in a parallel case in the US, the Seoul Central District Court said yesterday that Apple had infringed two of Samsung’s patents related to mobile broadband technology.
It also ruled that Samsung had breached an Apple patent with a feature that makes the interface appear to “bounce back” when a user scrolls to the edge of the screen. But the court dismissed nine other claims by Apple, including its allegation that Samsung copied the distinctive shape of the iPhone.
“The rest of [Apple’s] claims [on design patents] are invalid because most features already appeared in previous inventions by Japanese companies and European firms,” judge Bae Joon-Hyun said.
Apple was ordered to pay 40 million won (€28,000) in damages while Samsung was told to pay 25 million won. The court also ordered an immediate block on sales in South Korea of affected products including Apple’s iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2, and 12 models of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
A person close to the situation said there were “procedural steps before the injunction order is physically enforced” and both firms could appeal against the decision.
The sales ban does not cover the companies’ most recent models, including Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPad 3, which had not been released when the suit began, and Samsung’s Galaxy SIII, which does not have the “bounce back” feature. However, the older models affected are still popular among consumers unwilling to pay a premium for the latest product.
Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein in New York, said the “bounce back” feature would be easy for Samsung to fix through a software upgrade of the smartphones and tablets affected.
In contrast, the communications technology that prompted the injunction against Apple would be “very difficult to design around”, he said.
Larger payouts are expected to result from the hearing in California, where Apple is seeking $2 billion (€1.6 billion) in damages from Samsung, which in turn is seeking $500 million. The jury retired on Tuesday to deliberate.
– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012)