Apple Just Suffered A Setback In Its Global Patent War Against Samsung

Apple and Samsung

Photo: Associated Press/Getty Images

Apple Inc. lost a patent lawsuit in Japan as a Tokyo judge ruled that Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones and a tablet computer didn’t infringe on an Apple invention for synchronizing music and video data with servers.Apple was ordered by Tokyo District Judge Tamotsu Shoji today to pay costs of the lawsuit after his verdict, the latest decision in a global dispute between the technology giants over patents used in mobile devices. Samsung shares rose, erasing earlier losses.

“It’s hard to believe the products belong to the range of technologies of the claimant,” Shoji said in dismissing Apple’s case.

Apple and Samsung are battling over the smartphone market, estimated by Bloomberg Industries to be worth $219 billion last year, with patent disputes being litigated on four continents. Apple won a $1.05 billion verdict in the U.S. on Aug. 24, with a jury finding that Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung infringed six of seven patents for mobile devices. The two companies are also bound by commercial deals involving components supply.

Apple, the maker of iPhones, sued Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, in Tokyo last year, claiming the Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S II infringed the patent on synchronisation, and sought 100 million yen ($1.3 million) in damages, according to court documents. The Galaxy series of products in Japan is offered by NTT DoCoMo Inc., the country’s biggest mobile-phone company.

Samsung Shares

Samsung welcomed the decision, the company said in a statement. Carolyn Wu, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment.

The Tokyo court also ruled out today an injunction request by Apple to bar Samsung from offering 8 models of Galaxy products in Japan, said Kenichi Hasegawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Samsung.

Shares of the South Korean company rose as much as 1.6 per cent after the ruling, reversing an earlier decline, and closed 1.5 per cent higher at 1.233 million won in Seoul. Apple shares fell as much as 2.1 per cent in German trading before changing hands at 528.9 euros.

Samsung doesn’t provide sales figures for Japan. The company generated about 12 per cent of its revenue from Asia, excluding South Korea and China, in the quarter ended June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Cupertino, California-based Apple got 5.7 per cent of its sales in Japan during the same period, according to the data.”This will likely turn the tide in favour of Samsung,” said Kim Hyung Sik, Seoul-based analyst at Taurus Investment Securities Co. “Samsung had this win in a country that’s strong at intellectual property. The mood is turning positive for Samsung.”

iPad, iPhone Bans

Samsung’s method of synchronizing multimedia content between mobile devices and computers installed with its Kies software doesn’t infringe a patent held by Apple, the Japanese court said in a statement.

The software distinguishes a file by its name and size, contrary to Apple’s claim it uses other information such as the length of content to recognise which files need synchronizing, according to the statement.

NTT DoCoMo will keep making efforts to prevent patent disputes, Naoko Minobe, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based carrier, said by phone today.

U.S., Korea Rulings

Both companies were barred from selling some phones and tablet computers in South Korea on Aug. 24 when a Seoul Central District Court ruled they infringed each other’s patents.

Apple was ordered to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 in South Korea, while Samsung must stop selling 12 products including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab. Apple was also ordered to pay Samsung 40 million won ($35,000) and the South Korean company must pay its U.S. rival 25 million won for the patent infringments.

In the U.S., where Samsung had been barred from selling the Galaxy 10.1 tablet, Apple sought to extend the ban to eight models of Samsung smartphones following the jury verdict. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, has scheduled a Dec. 6 hearing on Apple’s request.

In Australia, a preliminary ban on Galaxy 10.1 tablet sales was overturned by the highest court in December. A judge last month began hearing Samsung’s claim that Apple products infringe its patents on wireless transmission. That trial also includes Apple’s claim that Samsung phones and tablets infringe its patents on touch-screen technology.

Samsung retained its position as the world’s biggest seller of smartphones in the second quarter, holding about 35 per cent of the market, Strategy Analytics said in July. Apple had the second slot with about 18 per cent, according to the market researcher.

The Japan case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Japan. Case No. Heisei 23 (WA)27941. Tokyo District Court.

—With assistance from Takashi Amano in Tokyo, Jun Yang in Seoul, Edmond Lococo in Beijing and Shunichi Ozasa in Tokyo. Editors: Joe Schneider, Michael Tighe

To contact the reporters on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at [email protected]; Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at [email protected]

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