iPhone banned in Korean patent trial verdict

A South Korea court has adjudged that Apple and Samsung both violated one another’s design patents, and issued fines and bans to both companies.

As Apple and Samsung duel in the patent trial of the century in California, the same arguments are playing out between the same two companies in South Korea-and the court in that case has returned a mixed verdict that sees both Apple and Samsung fined, and various tablet and smartphone products from both firms banned from sale in that country.

The Seoul central district court found that both Apple and Samsung, in their iOS and Galaxy mobile products, violated design patents owned by their rival: Samsung copied the ‘bounce-back’ interface feature, it determined, but did not copy the overall design of Apple’s iPad and iPhone. Such a mixed conclusion is also possible in the US trial, since the two mobile giants are pointing to separate patents in their own complaints.

Apple faces a higher fine, but both companies’ penalties are tiny and the reduction in share value after the verdict was announced (0.9 percent in Samsung’s case, and 0.5 percent in Apple’s) will have caused far more financial impact.

The court ordered Apple to pay Samsung 40 million South Korean won (about $35,250) while Samsung must pay Apple 25 million won. That’s just $22,031.

More importantly, the court banned the sale of the original iPad and iPad 2 in South Korea, along with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (more recent launches were unaffected). Samsung will not be allowed to sell the Galaxy S and S2, the Galaxy Tab tablet and 9 other mobile products in South Korea.

“We welcome today’s ruling, which affirms our position that Apple has been using our mobile telecommunications standards patents without having obtained the necessary licenses,” Samsung told the press after the verdict was announced. “Today’s ruling also affirmed our position that one single company cannot monopolise generic design features.”

Since Apple was founded and is headquartered in California, while Samsung is South Korea-based, it might not be unreasonable to expect this verdict to favor Samsung more than its counterpart in the US. The jury in San Jose are currently deliberating, having heard closing arguments and jury instructions earlier this week.

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