Apple's design claim rejected
By Kim Yoo-chul
A Korean court gave a partial victory to Samsung in its patent dispute with Apple, Friday.
The three-judge panel in the Seoul Central District Court ruled that the Korean firm didn’t infringe on Apple’s designs, the key part of the iPhone maker’s legal argument, while the American firm copied two of Samsung’s wireless patents.
The court ordered Apple to pay Samsung 40 million won in damages.
Samsung was ordered to pay Apple 25 million won, with the court recognizing Apple’s claim that its rival infringed on its ``bounce-back’’ touch-screen feature.
The ruling calls for Apple to stop selling iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 in Korea, while Samsung must stop selling the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tabs.
``We believe Apple’s i-devices such as iPhone 3GS infringed on two of Samsung’s wireless patents,’’ said the presiding Judge Bae Jun-hyon.
The court didn’t accept the claim by Apple that Samsung copied the iPhone design and failed to meet its commitment for FRAND principles. ``Samsung Electronics didn’t copy the iPhone,’’ said the court.
FRAND stands for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory standard. Samsung is seeking a 2.4 percent portion royalty payment for each Apple device, while latter is insisting the former’s request is ``too much’’ considering its earlier pledge to abide by FRAND standards.
Samsung welcomed the decision, while Apple spokesman Steve Park wasn’t available for comment. Legal experts say both Apple and Samsung will likely appeal the ruling.
``The companies may appeal eventually to the Supreme Court,’’ said one official.
The ruling drew keen attention because it preceded a nine-member U.S. jury trial verdict in which Apple is demanding $2.5 billion in compensation.
Apple raised the issue of consumer confusion in the U.S. court, while Samsung claimed their products are so different that it is absurd to claim people will be confused.
``When you look at the ruling in Korea, Apple has failed to defend its design-patents. Although the court ruled Samsung infringed Apple’s bounce-back patent, the software could easily be modified, therefore, no big impact on Samsung,’’ said Lee Chang-hoon, a patent lawyer.
Samsung had sued Apple in April 2011 in Seoul, Tokyo and Mannheim, Germany, saying the iPhone maker infringed on its patents.
Apple countered with a suit in June. Samsung then filed a separate suit in Seoul in March this year, as the legal tussle expanded to countries including the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
Samsung and Apple began a jury trial in U.S. federal court in San Jose, California, on July 30 to try the latter’s claims that the former copied its iPad and iPhone designs and Samsung’s counterclaims that it’s the victim of patent infringement by its U.S. competitor. The case is the first U.S. jury trial in the dispute.
``A similar decision is likely in the United States, meaning the disputes between the two consumer electronics giants will continue without an imminent peace treaty,’’ said Lee.