Following Apple's $1 billion patent win against Samsung in a US court recently, the tech industry has been closely watching the two rivals' other patent fights around the globe.
Late last week, a new patent judgment came down in one of Apple's most important markets: Japan. But this time the winner turned out to be Samsung.
A three-judge panel in Tokyo ruled that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent claim covering the syncing of video and music data with devices to servers. Led by judge Tamotsu Shoji, the panel rejected Apple's request for damages related to the alleged infringement, which would have amounted to 100 million yen (over £800,000). According to AFP, Judge Shoji told the court that "the defendant's products do not seem like they used the same technology as the plaintiff's products so we turn down the complaints made by [Apple]."
The fight over patents in Japan is no small matter. Deep-pocketed Japanese consumers have warmed to the new iOS and Android touch-screen devices, largely ditching local manufacturers mired in outdated designs and software platforms specific to the Japanese market. But despite Samsung's close proximity to and regional feel for the Japanese consumer, recent data compiled by Japanese research firm MMRI indicates that Apple remains far ahead of Samsung in terms of tablet and smartphone sales. Nevertheless, late last year Samsung tried, unsuccessfully, to ban the sale of the iPad 2 in Japan.
Apple will have 30 days to appeal this latest Japan ruling. But this may only be the beginning of the struggle between the two companies in Japan. According to the Nikkei, Apple has also filed another lawsuit against Samsung in the territory related to screen displays. In the meantime, the Tokyo court has ordered Apple to pay all of Samsung's legal fees related to the case up to this point.