Apple 2.0

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Samsung wins split decision on Apple patents in home turf

August 24, 2012: 5:28 AM ET

Seoul court bans sales of older iPhones, iPads, Galaxy phones and tablets

Banned in Seoul: Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4. Photo: PhoneArena.com

UPDATE: In the U.S., Apple won big and Samsung won nothing. See here.

FORTUNE -- In a ruling that will not affect the U.S. patent infringement trial now in the hands of a California jury but addresses many of the same issues, a South Korean court has delivered a split decision that slightly favors Samsung.

A three-judge panel ruled Friday that...

  • Apple (AAPL) infringed two of Samsung's standards-essential patents for the transfer of mobile data
  • Samsung violated Apple's "bounce-back" touchscreen feature
  • That Apple's claims that Samsung copied the design of its onscreen icons were without merit
  • That there was "no possibility" consumers could confuse Samsung's smartphones for Apple's

The South Korean patent dispute was one of dozens Apple and Samsung are fighting in courts around the world -- this one on Samsung's home turf.

Each side was ordered to pay the other damages. Apple must pay Samsung 40 million won ($35,300). Samsung was ordered to pay Apple 25 million won ($22,000).

The court also halted sales of each side's older product lines. Pending appeal, Apple must stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 in South Korea, while Samsung must stop selling 12 products including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab.

The iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S III were spared because they were introduced after the suits were filed.

The penalty Apple was ordered to pay for two of Samsung's wireless patents is particularly significant, writes FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, because the two patents are "standards essential" and by international agreement must be licensed under so-called fair and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms.

With this ruling, according to Mueller, South Korea may have inadvertently declared itself a "FRAND rogue state."

"What appears at first sight to be a mixed ruling," he writes, "is actually a declaration of a trade war. It would mean that foreign companies would either have to bow to Samsung's and LG's demands and, among other things, give up their own non-standard-essential intellectual property or stop selling in Korea."

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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