Patent Battles: Apple Beats Samsung in Japan, Loses in U.S.

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The U.S. isn’t the only place that smartphone rivals Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) are embroiled in litigation over patent infringement. The world’s two largest smartphone makers have been calling each other copycats in Japanese courts as well, and on Tuesday a judge there issued a ruling that Apple’s older iPads and iPhones do not infringe on data communications patents owned by Samsung.

That decision was made by Tokyo District Court Judge Koji Hasegawa. Apple will not have to pay Samsung any damages for technology found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPad 2.

Samsung issued a statement on the ruling to Bloomberg, saying: “We are disappointed by the court’s decision. Upon a thorough review of the ruling, we will determine which measures to take, including an appeal.”

The companies have long accused each other of copying device designs and infringing patents in courts all over the world. According to Apple Insider, Apple has thus far been the most successful in the litigation, but that is constantly changing as the two companies win damages and then countersue in a seemingly endless stream of legal woes that is making some lawyers very rich and revealing how broken the current patent system is. Both companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees fighting over patents.

Here in the States, earlier this month Apple issued an injunction against Samsung, requesting that a permanent sales ban be placed on 23 Samsung devices. Apple made the same request in December 2012, but Judge Lucy Koh, who has been presiding over the tech behemoths’ patent litigation in the U.S., denied that motion. “In sum, to the limited extent that Apple has been able to show that any of its harms were caused by Samsung’s illegal conduct (in this case, only trade dress dilution), Apple has not established that the equities support an injunction,” she said at the time.

Koh denied the repeated request again at the beginning of March, saying that Apple has not been able to prove that the infringement of its design patents have caused harm to its business. After that decision, Apple filed another round of paperwork asking that the request be reviewed again, and Samsung appealed the 2012 decision that awarded Apple $929 million in damages though it didn’t result in the sales ban.

Koh has said she wants Apple to prove that the design aspects of the iPhone that Samsung is infringing are the sole drivers of sales in order for a full sales ban to be warranted. The judge has been tough on Apple, repeatedly saying that she thinks Samsung’s competition is legal. Her most recent ruling could give Samsung leverage as the two companies attempt to settle with a mediator outside of court.

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