Both Samsung and Apple get sales bans after patent infringement lawsuit in South Korea
While we’re anxiously awaiting the verdict in the Apple v. Samsung case in California, here’s something from South Korea. The two companies have been in a legal battle over there too, with various claims of patent infringement flying in both directions. Samsung sued Apple first, in response to Apple’s many actions in courts across the world. Then Apple countersued.
And now, many months later, we finally have a ruling, which might give us an indication of what future decisions on matters like these might look like. The short version: everyone’s right, and both companies infringed each other’s patents.
So the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Nexus have been banned in South Korea, alongside the original Galaxy Tab and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung’s products were found to be infringing Apple’s ‘bounce-back’ patent, which covers what happens when you scroll to the end of a list, or to the edge of a webpage or document – there’s a ‘bounce-back-into-place’ effect. Another patent was claimed to be infringed by Samsung, one having to do with its TouchWiz icons and their pereceived similarity to Apple’s iOS icons, but Apple didn’t win this one.
Furthermore, the court ruled that there was no possibility that consumers would confuse Apple and Samsung smartphones, shooting down Apple’s ‘trade dress’ arguments – which, by the way, it has made over and over again in many parts of the world (with some success too, for example in Germany where Samsung had to redesign the Galaxy Tab 10.1).
Samsung also has to pay Apple 25 million won, or around $22,000. However, Apple didn’t get out of this unharmed. In fact, its iPhone 4 and iPad 2 have also been banned in South Korea, and Apple has to pay Samsung 20 million won (or $17,500) in damages per violation. Apple was found to infringe on two Samsung patents related to wireless transmission of data (which makes you wonder how well Apple will do in court once it launches an LTE-capable iPhone, seeing as how Samsung controls most of the LTE patents). Because it infringed on two patents, Apple will have to pay 40 million won in total to Samsung.
Of course, either company (or both of them) can appeal these decisions, and they probably will. First to an appeals court, and from then on to the South Korea Supreme Court. So this is hardly over. And judging by the pace at which the hearings were held on these cases, it will take many more months for a definitive verdict to be issued.
However, this is an interesting showcase of what can happen when there’s a patent war going on – everybody can lose.