A South Korean court ruled today that technology giants Apple and Samsung infringed each other’s patents, and ordered a partial ban of their products in the country.
But the court denied accusations that Samsung copied the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad.
Seoul Central District Court ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 from stores in South Korea, ruling that the products infringed on two of Samsung’s five disputed patents, including those for telecommunications technology.
The court also denied Apple’s claim that Samsung had illegally copied its design, and that the shape and big display screen existed in products before the iPhone and iPad.
But the court also ruled that South Korean firm Samsung infringed one of Apple’s patents related to the screen’s bounce-back feature, which causes the screen to bounce back when a user scrolls to an end image.
The court banned sales of products using the technology, including the Galaxy S2, in South Korea.
Sales of devices recently released by Samsung and Apple – including the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S3 smartphones – were not affected.
Court spokesman Kim Mun-sung said the court’s ruling takes effect immediately, although companies often request that sanctions be suspended while they evaluate their legal options.
Nam Ki-young, a spokesman for Samsung, said the company has not decided what its next legal step might be. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
The court ordered each company to pay monetary compensation to its competitor. Samsung must pay Apple 25 million won (£14,000) while Apple must pay its rival 40 million won (£22,000).
Legal experts not directly involved in the case said the ruling is favourable to Samsung since the company has won rare recognition from a court – that Apple infringed its wireless patents, which had been denied by courts in Europe.
“This is basically Samsung’s victory on its home territory,” said patent attorney Jeong Woo-sung. “Out of nine countries, Samsung got the ruling that it wanted for the first time in South Korea.”
Courts in Europe rejected similar claims by Samsung that Apple violated its wireless patents, because many of the patents are considered to be industry standards. Industry standard patents are a crucial technology for new players to make products compatible with the rest of the market and must be licensed under fair and reasonable terms.
Europe’s anti-trust regulator launched an investigation earlier this year into whether Samsung was failing to license its standard patents under fair and reasonable terms. In Friday’s ruling, the court found no fault with Samsung and ruled that it did not abuse its industry standard patents.
The lawsuit is part of a global multibillion-pound fight between the world’s two largest smartphone makers which has been unfolding in nearly a dozen countries.
The biggest stakes are in the US, where the two companies are locked in an epic struggle over patents and innovation in a federal court in San Jose, California.