South Korean Court Rules That Both Apple and Samsung Infringed Patents

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A South Korean court ruled Friday that Apple and Samsung have infringed on each other's patents, ordering small monetary damages and a temporary halt in sales of multiple devices from both companies, including the iPhone 4 and Galaxy S series.

The Seoul Central District Court said Apple violated two of Samsung's wireless patents, while Samsung infringed one utility patent held by Apple. The iPhone maker's claims that Samsung copied its designs were denied.

In comparing Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones, District Court Judge Bae Jun-hyun said that despite the similarity of the overall appearance of the devices, consumers can distinguish between the two and they have a different feel due to minor design details.

Samsung did infringe utility patents on technologies involving the "bounce-back" graphical effect when users try to scroll beyond the edge of the screen, and the slide-to-unlock function in Apple devices, Judge Bae said.

Devices Immediately Banned

The court ordered an immediate ban on sales of some older devices in Korea, including Apple's iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2, as well as Samsung's Galaxy series, including the Galaxy S, S2, Galaxy Tab and Tab 10.1. None of the companies' latest models are affected.

Although the verdicts are to take effect immediately, some "processing time" will be required for the court to apply the actual sales ban in retail stores, according to Kim Mun-sung, a court spokesman. It is "highly likely" that both companies will petition the court against the injunction ruling, Kim added.

Experts said the utility patents that Samsung infringed are not essential and the company can work around them for future products. The 3G and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) patents that Apple is said to have infringed require a license and could be more troublesome.

The three judges panel ordered Apple to pay a total of 40 million won, or about US$35,300, for damages to Samsung, and Samsung to pay 25 million won, about US$22,100, to Apple.

Samsung said it welcomes today's ruling. "Today's ruling affirmed our position that one single company cannot monopolize generic design features," it said in a statement.

Apple Korea did not comment immediately, and lawyers representing the company also declined to comment.

Patent trials between Apple and Samsung are also taking place in the U.S. and in Australia this month, with jury deliberation ongoing in a San Jose court.

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