Apple LOST This Big Battle to Samsung

Samsung won a small victory against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in South Korean on Friday when a judge said the company didn’t copy the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone, but rather, the iPhone infringed on Samsung’s wireless technology.

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However, the panel did rule that Samsung violated the Apple technology behind the bounce-back feature when scrolling on touch screens, and ordered both sides to pay limited damages.

The Seoul Central District Court ruling called for a partial ban on sales of both Apple and Samsung products, including the iPad and some smartphones from each company. However, the verdict did not affect the latest-generation phones — Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy S3.

The ruling affects only the South Korean market, but is part of a larger struggle between the world’s top two smartphone makers, which are doing battle in nine different markets, the largest of which is the United States, where Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5 billion over allegations it has created illegal knockoffs of iPhones and iPads. That case is currently being deliberated by a jury.

For the South Korean Samsung, it’s a home field victory, but the judge’s decision there will in no way impact the case in the U.S. Various courts in Europe have already shot down Samsung’s arguments that Apple had infringed its wireless technology patents, ruling that they were part of industry standards that must be licensed under fair terms to competitors. The ruling in South Korea is the first to go in Samsung’s favor.

Apple was ordered to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the first two iterations of its iPad from store shelves in South Korea after a judge ruled 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 the look and feel of its own iDevices, ruling that similar rectangular screens with rounded corners had existed in products before the iPhone and iPad.

But the court did rule against Samsung in one respect, saying it had infringed Apple’s patent on the feature that causes a screen to bounce back when a user scrolls to an end image. For that violation, all Samsung products using the technology, including the Galaxy S2, have been banned from sale in South Korea.

A court spokesman said the ruling was to take effect immediately, but companies often will request that sanctions be suspended while they evaluate their legal options.

The court also ordered each company to pay monetary compensation to the other. Samsung must pay Apple 25 million won ($22,000) while Apple must pay Samsung 40 million won, pittance to both companies.

Samsung welcomed the ruling, saying that it had “affirmed our position that one single company cannot monopolize generic design features.” But while Apple declined to comment, it’s unlikely the California-based company is shedding too many tears over the decidedly small loss. South Korea is by no means a large market for Apple, and the ruling is not likely to have much of an impact on jury deliberations in the U.S., where Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5 billion and demanding that the court pull its most popular smartphone sand computer tablets from the market.

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