Its easy to forget due to the huge coverage of the US trial that these two companies are actually fighting it out in court in other countries as well. A South Korean court has ruled that both companies have violated each other patents and handed down immediate bans on sales of all infringing products along with fines.
Some of the products being banned are Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 Tab, Galaxy S I and Galaxy S II. In Apple’s case, the products include the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 handsets, as well as the iPad and iPad 2. The court found that Apple infringed on two of Samsung’s wireless technology patents and was ordered to pay Samsung 40 million won ($35,400). Samsung was fined 25 million won for violating one patent relating to so-called bouncing-back function used when scrolling electronic documents.
According Reuter, the judge’s ruling states:
There are lots of external design similarities between the iPhone and Galaxy S, such as rounded corners and large screens … but these similarities had been documented in previous products.
Given that it’s very limited to make big design changes in touch-screen based mobile products in general … and the defendant (Samsung) differentiated its products with three buttons in the front and adopted different designs in camera and (on the) side, the two products have a different look.
The judge said it was difficult to say that consumers would confuse the iPhone with the Galaxy given they clearly have the respective company logos on the back of each model, and consumers also factor in operating systems, brand, applications, price, and services when buying a phone.
On face value the ruling might come across as fair. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Samsung’s patents that were deemed to be infringed are all standard-essential patents. There is no work around here. Apple need these patents to ensure their products connects to 3G networks. On the other hand, Samsung could easily work around the bouncing-back function.
FossPatent had this to say on the matter:
While Samsung is now also formally subjected to an injunction, that one is not over a standard-essential patent. Samsung can modify the affected products and future products and simply work around that patent. But Apple cannot work around the 3G/UMTS standard.
Formally, only the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 are affected, but in practical terms, Apple now knows that (unless the appeals court reverses this ruling) Samsung may be able to quickly seek injunctions against newer Apple products over standard-essential patents.
Mueller also reports that, “What has to be said in all fairness to Korea is that the United States itself will have a credibility problem on standard-essential patents in the event that the ITC later today orders an import ban against Apple over a Motorola SEP (and if such ban is neither vetoed by the White House nor stayed by the Federal Circuit).”