POSTED: 05:53 a.m. HST, Aug 24, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 05:54 a.m. HST, Aug 24, 2012
SEOUL, South Korea >> South Korea's Samsung won a home court ruling in its global smartphone battle against Apple on Friday when judges in Seoul said the company didn't copy the look and feel of the U.S. company's iPhone, and that Apple infringed on Samsung's wireless technology.
However, in a split decision on patents, the panel also said Samsung violated Apple technology behind the bounce-back feature when scrolling on touch screens, and ordered both sides to pay limited damages.
The Seoul Central District Court ruling called for a partial ban on sales of products including iPads and smartphones from both companies, though the verdict did not affect the latest-generation phones — Apple's iPhone 4S or Samsung's Galaxy S3.
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 biggest stakes are in the U.S., where Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5 billion over allegations it has created illegal knockoffs of iPhones and iPads.
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 where judges have ruled that they are part of industry standards that must be licensed under fair terms to competitors.
"This is basically Samsung's victory on its home territory," said patent attorney Jeong Woo-sung. "Out of nine countries, Samsung got the ruling that it wanted for the first time in South Korea."
The ruling ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 from store shelves in South Korea, saying that 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, ruling that big rectangular screens in cases with rounded corners had existed in products before the iPhone and iPad.
"It is not possible to assert that these two designs are similar based only on the similarity of those features," the court said in a ruling issued in Korean that was translated into English by The Associated Press. It also said individual icons in the Samsung products do not appear similar to the icons Apple used in the iPhone.
But the court ruled that Suwon, South Korea-based 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.
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.
The court also ordered each company to pay monetary compensation to its competitor. Samsung must pay Apple 25 million won ($22,000) while Apple must pay its rival 40 million won.
South Korea is not a big market for Apple, and the ruling is not likely to have a big impact on jury deliberations in the U.S.