Apple, Samsung face sales bans in South Korea

August 24, 2012

Apple and Samsung both face sales bans in South Korea following a ruling from a panel of judges in Seoul that the electronics companies have infringed on each other’s patents.

The ruling, according to the Associated Press, doesn’t affect the latest smartphone from either company introduced after the case was filed — the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S III, respectively — but does require that older phones and tablets be pulled from shelves in South Korea. According to PCWorld, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and the first and second generations of iPad tablets can no longer be sold, along with the Samsung Galaxy S, SII, Galaxy Tab or Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The decision comes as both companies await a ruling in their U.S. patent dispute, now in the hands of a jury in San Jose, Calif. Apple and Samsung have also sued each other in European courts and in Australia in a worldwide battle over patent infringement.

The judges found that Samsung had infringed on an Apple patent that covers how the touchscreen behaves while scrolling, but also that Apple had infringed on Samsung wireless technology patents, the report said. The decision only affects South Korea but is notable because it affirmed Samsung’s claims regarding its mobile technology patents — in other courts, judges had found the patents were for industry-standard technology that had to be licensed to competitors.

The ruling also rejected Apple’s claims that Samsung’s hardware designs were pulled from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s playbook. Apple has said in court that the look and feel of Samsung’s products were potentially confusing for consumers because of their similarity to the iPad and iPhone. The judges did not agree that the overall design of the iPhone was unique to Apple’s products.

The companies will have to pay each other damages, though nothing near the $2.5 billion that Apple is asking for , or even the $421 million that Samsung is asking from Apple, both in the United States. In Korea, Samsung will have to pay Apple 25 million won ($22,000), while Apple must pay Samsung 40 million won ($35,000) as a result of the ruling.

Over one-half of all smartphones in the global market are made by these companies, who are fierce competitors in the consumer market — though Samsung also supplies Apple with some of the components used in the iPhone and iPad.

Related stories:

Judge gives instructions to Apple-Samsung jury before closing arguments

AP: South Korean court rules Samsung didn’t copy Apple’s iPhone design, but both infringed patents

Samsung ships 10 million Galaxy S III units

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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