Korean court rules on Apple v Samsung patent infringement

Korean court rules on Apple v Samsung patent infringement

Reports are starting to come in that state Apple and Samsung have been found guilty of infringing on each others patents by a Korean court. Apple has been found guilty of infringing 2 patents and will be hit with an import ban and a $35,000 fine. Samsung is also facing a fine of $22,000 and a ban for infringing on Apple's elastic scrolling patent, but the court ruled they didn't copy Apple designs or violate their trade dress.

Details are scarce at the moment, coming entirely from tweets and fragments by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. We'll update as the news becomes clearer and more complete.

Update: Apple may have been found to have been infringing FRAND patents. These types of patents are different in kind from the proprietary patent Samsung was found to be infringing. FRAND stands for fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, and are standards-essential -- in this case they involve technology required for a phone to use a cellular network. In order to become part of the standard, companies like Samsung agree to license them under FRAND terms. If a Korean court really let Samsung successfully attack Apple with FRAND patents, it's disturbing on a number of levels. Blogger and consultant Florian Mueller of FOSS patents has an informed, if decidedly anti-FRAND litigation view:

It would mean that foreign companies would either have to bow to Samsung's and LG's demands and, among other things, give up their own non-standard-essential intellectual property or stop selling in Korea. If I were Apple, I would defend myself vigorously and, if necessary, write off the Korean market until this issue is resolved through bilateral U.S.-Korea talks or at the level of the World Trade Organization.

Mueller calls it the declaration of a trade war, and also points out that, outside their native Korea, Samsung has consistently lost cases where they've tried to litigate FRAND patents.

All this to say, the Apple v Samsung case in Korea is bigger and more important than either Apple or Samsung.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

Linebarrel86 says:

This is funny. Apple wants war and their gonna soon have their fill.

Foreign companies already don't particularly like having to rely so much on the US for software, their definitely aren't gonna want to have anyone pushing their own countries hardware makers around.

And if Korea does it, what's to stop others from following suite?

Its almost as if Apple seriously thought that they would simply file law suites and win without fully comprehending the possible consequences.

Rob White says:

It's a reap what you sow effect at work here. The bigger Apple gets & the more money they stockpile, the more these countries they depend on for their supply chain will look to exert some influence or at the least slow them down. It happened to Microsoft in the 90's & now it's Apple's turn. And really can you honestly recite just what Microsoft was ever guilty of? Bundling software? Limiting third party options on their own platform? Being the choice of most consumers/enterprises? Aside from the enterprise part I'd say history is about ready for a repeat with Apple. Only the stakes are much higher this time. And most far eastern countries play it fast & loose with so called FRAND standards & software piracy anyway.

There is an easy solution for Apple however. And this will be the sure tell on now seriously they intend to fight this or work out a settlement behind the scenes. Take about half of your billions in offshore bank accts & rebuild your supply chain right here at home in the US/Canada & employ our workers. It would mean less profit margin but I guarantee not by that much. Apple could then insure they play in markets where the playing field is level. Don't tell me it isn't possible either. It would take only one major company, and Apple is certainly a major player aren't they, to start a homecoming revolution if you will for tech manufacturing. Other industries could follow suit then.

Linebarrel86 says:

While I agree, I just can't see Apple doing it. They almost seem as if they want all or nothing.

But as you state, history has a way of repeating itself and Apple has to be ready. All companies that skyrocket to the top eventually topple.

Rob White says:

Of course they won't do it. That ultra greedy, false hippy/prophet Steve Jobs still has too much influence in the executives & board even though he's gone for the long nap. In reality Jobs was a fake self proclaimed minimalist. He flaunted his wealth through Apple & the way he beatdown employees at every turn. But for apple now that he is gone the question is can they effectively use that wealth to safeguard their own future? I sincerely hope they do. It's not a good trend when everybody follows a dominant company around & adores/apes their moves trying to get a slice of the pie. Tech companies did this with Microsoft until they learned to stand on their own & we were all better for it.

Long rants aside I'd love to see Apple at least make a play on the scenario I outlined above. They can afford to readily & rapidly. But they have to let some of the Steve Jobs greed agenda expire first. And no Apple isn't the only American company that should do that. They are the most prominent at the present time however.

Dark_Blu says:

You're right.

Apple can afford to bring Manufacturing to the US and Canada and bring the jobs with it. THAT would make Apple enormous patriotic heroes and other companies would definitely follow suit. I'd buy iProducts made in the USA and Canada just because they were made here and in Canada and contributing to jobs here, versus cheap overseas labor and higher profits. The question is, is Cook willing to entertain that thought and take somewhat lower profits while also protecting Apple against foreign government extortion attempts. It's not going to stop any time soon, as long as they manufacture overseas.

Dark_Blu says:

If Apple wants all or nothing, they may find that arrogance and lack of preparedness leads to failure more often than success. Just because consumers have stood in line to buy their products in the past, doesn't mean they will do so by default no matter what the product is. I seem recall a certain "Cube" that wasn't a big seller under Steve Jobs and Cook doesn't have 25% of jobs Charisma.

Unchewable says:

I think alot of people are forgetting why Apple first approached Samsung their products copied so bad that even late night TV was making fun of them. One thing led to another and this happened I would have tried to protect my intellectual property as well. I know people who have pulled out of having their products made overseas because of how quickly they are copied and sold cheaper. They are still doing it too just a couple articles down is a story about how bad they are copying their retail stores http://www.imore.com/samsung-opens-its-flagship-electronics-store-sydney...

PilotPhil81 says:

Of corse they would do this. Samsung is a Korean company, so naturally they would hate on apple.

Dev from tipb says:

What most people (and definitely paid shills like Mueller) fail to understand/mention about FRAND is that the F stands for Fair, not Free. Samsung is well within their rights to demand royalties for FRAND patents -- IIRC, in similar cases an all-cash royalty rate might be between 2.25% and 3.5%, which, on a $600 iPhone could translate into between $13.50 and $21 per iPhone, per patent. The only thing, under FRAND conditions, that Samsung *cannot* do is force Company A to give up more than Company B.

Apple has argued that Samsung is doing just that, because other companies (allegedly) pay less. The simple reality is that companies negotiate lower royalty rates in FRAND cases by bartering cross-licensing agreements in lieu of paying the full rate. Apple has steadfastly refused to cross-license, and so is subject to a higher payment than an HTC or Nokia. I have little doubt that Samsung has offered a grace period to Apple on cash payments to try and entice a cross-licensing deal, so Apple is not entirely at fault for the delay, but, to date, Apple has done neither -- neither cross-licensed nor paid the patent royalties -- and that combination is indefensible.

Dark_Blu says:

Indeed Apple wants to have their cake and eat it too but outside of AT&T, no one is going to give Apple that kind of one sided sweet heart deal. So Samsung wouldn't play ball Apple's way and they sued. It would be funny if the US Jury answered the same was as the Korean Court and found both had violated each other's patents but that Samsung didn't copy Apple's design.

Oh well. Can't get your iPhone 4 or iPad 2 in Korea any more. Boo_hoo. LOL!!!

9thWonder says:

The only reason to have cake is to eat it. It's the sole purpose of cake. If you can't eat the cake there is no point in having cake. Sorry. I hate that saying. It's illogical.

Mac58 says:

My question to you Rene, is was Samsung suing because Apple had not been paying the licensing fee set for those FRAND parents or what? It was to my understanding that Apple wasn't paying anything to Samsung and maybe I understand the system wrong but under FRAND, don't companies still have to pay the companies who made these FRAND patents?

Dev from tipb says:

Apple still has to pay - the question is what. The companies themselves get to negotiate what is "fair" - Samsung would prefer some patent cross-licensing in the basket of payment, something Apple vehemently opposes, because they value their patents more than thei cash. After 5 years, the children in Cupertino and Seoul cannot agree what is "fair" payment, so now the courts become involved.

At some point, Apple will have to pay Samsung for these patents - the only question is whether it will be an enormous sum of money, or a lesser sum of money with some patent licenses thrown in.

plunder says:

Legal systems around the world must see this international dispute as both a pain in the bum and a massive cash cow. Apple play hard ball from the start, now Samsung do the same. They could have had a deal long ago, but greed and self image got in the way.

I was impressed at the size of the fines, but why not make them really derisory. Fine Apple $5 and Samsung $12, with the same bans. It's like calling them spoiled rich kids - which they are.

9thWonder says:

i do find it funny how different the article titles are when Apple may be in the wrong or has some level of culpability. They are less accusatory.