South Korea Court Says Samsung, Apple Infringed Each Other's Patents
By EVAN RAMSTAD And MIN SUN LEE
SEOUL—A South Korea court on Friday delivered a split decision in its piece of the global legal battle between Apple Inc. AAPL -0.93% and Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +1.82% over mobile computing patents.
A three-judge panel in Seoul Central District Court said Apple infringed two Samsung technology patents, while Samsung violated one of Apple's patents. The court awarded small damages to both companies and said they must halt sales of the infringing products in South Korea.
None of the banned products are the latest models of Samsung or Apple devices.
The court also ruled that there was "no possibility" that consumers would confuse Samsung and Apple smartphones, and that Samsung's smartphone icons don't infringe on Apple's patents.
The ruling holds greater symbolic than practical impact as neither company gained an advantage in the broader dispute, which is playing out in trials in the U.S. and Australia this month and extends to nine countries in all.
The judges ordered Apple to pay 20 million won, or $17,650 in damages for each violated patent. Samsung was ordered to pay 25 million won, or $22,000. Both companies had sought damages of 100 million won, or about $90,000, from the other.
The court said Samsung infringed Apple's patent for bounce-back technology—so called because when a user scrolls beyond the edge of a photo, Web page or document, it bounces back into place.
The court banned sales of Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad 2, as well as Samsung's Galaxy SII and Galaxy Nexus smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy 10.1 tablet computers.
Samsung launched the case in South Korea, along with several other countries, in its first response to the Apple lawsuit in a U.S. court that started the battle in April last year. Apple countersued in South Korea after the Samsung suit.
The issues are the same as in other countries. Apple says Samsung violated its design patents by copying its smartphone and tablet PCs. Samsung says Apple is using some of its wireless communication technology without paying a fee.
But they have played out in the slow-motion style of South Korea's trial system. Cases are heard by panels of judges who listen to and question attorneys who present arguments but relatively less evidence than seen in courts in the U.S. and other countries.
Hearings occur infrequently, averaging once a month in the Samsung-Apple dispute, and last only an hour or two. Attorneys spend the first part of a new hearing answering questions that came up at the previous one.
From a start in June last year, the judges held 13 hearings in Samsung's case against Apple and 10 hearings in Apple's case against Samsung. They decided in late June that the verdict in the two cases would be announced simultaneously.
In another difference from the U.S. trial system, an appeal of a case in South Korea results in a rehearing of the entire dispute, not just a specific issue that is considered erroneous or controversial from the first trial. Either company may now take Friday's decision to an appeals court and, from there, to the South Korea Supreme Court.