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Seoul court slaps both Apple & Samsung with fines & bans in patent infringement case

A South Korean court has ruled that Apple and Samsung both violated patents held by the other in the development of several smartphones and tablets. Accordingly, the three-judge panel handed down a sales ban and imposed fines on both companies, Reuters has reported.

Apple’s iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2 were found to have infringed on two Samsung patents related to wireless technology, while a host of Samsung devices violated an Apple-held patent for the ‘bounce-back’ gesture used for webpage and document scrolling.

But despite design similarities between their products, the Seoul Central District Court said there was “no possibility” that consumers could confuse smartphones and tablets from the two companies.

"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," one of the judges said, according to Reuters.

"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 [the] camera and [on the] side, the two products have a different look," the judge continued.

The prominent logos on each of the devices also make them clearly distinguishable from similar products made by the other company, the judge said, adding that other factors such as price, operating systems, and services are closely considered by prospective customers, making confusion a non-issue.

Samsung was ordered to halt the sale of 10 products, including the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Tab tablets, while four Apple products, including the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, were banned. The court also said Samsung must pay Apple 40 million (£22,000) won in damages, and Apple was ordered to hand over 25 million won (£14,000) to Samsung.

The decision comes as a nine-member jury has kicked off deliberations in the headline-grabbing Apple versus Samsung patent trial in California. The stakes are considerably higher in that case, with Apple demanding more than $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) in damages and a permanent ban on Samsung products it believes are patent-infringing, while Samsung is requesting $422 million (£266 million) in damages.