Patent palaver: Apple and Samsung banned from selling some products after S Korean court ruling

While all the focus has been on the Apple-Samsung patent trial in the US in recent weeks, another court case focusing on the same issues has been going on in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

On Friday local time, the court ruled that both companies had infringed each other’s patents. As a result, the judge slapped a national sales bans on products made by both tech giants, among them Apple’s iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 handsets, as well as the iPad and iPad 2. Samsung products ordered to be removed from store shelves include the Galaxy S I and S II smartphones, together with the Galaxy Tab and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet PCs.

These may not be Apple or Samsung’s latest products, but the ruling will nevertheless be annoying for Korean consumers who’d been hoping to pick up a cheaper phone or tablet made by one of the two companies. They may just look elsewhere now. Apple and Samsung, meanwhile, will have the hassle of removing their products from sale, losing revenue in the process.

Patent infringements

The court ruled that Apple had infringed two Samsung patents, while the Korean company had infringed one of Apple’s.

The judge said Samsung had violated an Apple patent concerning the ‘bounce back’ fuction, which serves to indicate to users that they have reached the end of a page when scrolling down on their device. Apple, on the other hand, was ruled to have infringed patents relating to the transfer and transmission of data between devices.

Design OK

On the design of the iPhone and Galaxy S handsets, the judge said it was hard to agree with Apple’s claim that consumers would confuse the two devices.

“There are lots of external design similarities between the iPhone and Galaxy S, such as rounded corners and large screens….but these similarities had been documented in previous products,” Reuters reported a Seoul Central District Court judge as saying.

“Given that it’s very limited to make big design changes in touchscreen based mobile products in general … and the defendant (Samsung) differentiated its products with three buttons in the front and adopted different designs in camera and (on the) side, the two products have a different look,” the judge said, adding that the respective company logos were also shown on the devices, further decreasing the chances of someone mixing them up.


Besides the sales bans, the court also imposed fines on both companies, with Apple told to pay 40 million won ($35,500). Samsung’s fine was slightly less at 25 million won ($22,000).

Such amounts pale into insignificance when you consider that at the trial in California, where the jury is currently deliberating, Apple is seeking $2.5 billion from Samsung for patent violation. The verdict in that case is expected soon.

[via BBC, Reuters]

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