Apple vs Samsung: The Seoul verdict

Apple and Samsung have already split mobile phone customers down the middle, with some saying they wouldn’t buy anything else but Apple and others sticking firmly with Samsung.

And now the two technology giants have divided a court ruling too.

Apple and Samsung are now both facing sales bans after a court ruled they were both in the wrong.

According to the Seoul Central District Court, Apple has violated two of Samsung’s patents which relate to mobile data transfer technologies.

But Samsung has not emerged unscathed in the Korean case, which found the world’s largest mobile phone maker has infringed Apple’s patent for its bounce-back touchscreen feature. The court, however, dismissed nine of Apple’s other claims, including its allegation that Samsung copied the iPhone’s distinctive shape.

Judge Bae Joon-Hyun said: “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.”

The ruling comes as the pair continue to battle it out in California where a federal court is considering a verdict on a whole host of patent-infringement claims and counter claims.

Apple has been ordered to stop selling its iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPads 1 and 2 in South Korea while Samsung has been told it can no longer sell 12 of its devices, which include the popular Galaxy S, Galaxy II and Galaxy Tab.

The sales bans, which come into effect immediately, don’t cover Samsung’s latest products, including the much-hyped Galaxy SIII, or Apple’s iPhone 4S and its latest iPad, because those gadgets were all released after the lawsuits were filed, meaning the court could not legally consider the patents involved in those devices.

Samsung and Apple could both decide to appeal against the decision.

Both companies have also been ordered to pay the other damages, although compared to the astronomical legal fees they are racking up and the damages sought in California, the money involved is small fry. Apple must pay Samsung £22,000 while the Korean company has to pay its rival £14,000.

Samsung has already welcomed the ruling saying it affirms its position that “Apple has been using our mobile telecommunications standards patents without having obtained the necessary licenses”.

The ruling has been described by experts as a “mild positive” for Samsung. But analysts say the Korean ruling will have little impact on the important US trial in which Apple is seeking between $2.5bn and $2.75bn in damages, claiming that Samsung has infringed four of its design and three software patents from the iPhone and iPad. Apple also wants preliminary bans which stop Samsung selling one of its tablets made permanent and extended to its smartphones.

Meanwhile, Samsung is counter suing for $421.8m in royalties which it claims Apple owes for the infringement of five of its patents. The jury in the California trial retired on Tuesday to consider its verdict on the complicated claims and counterclaims, with the final decision having major implications for both companies.

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