Tokyo court rejects Apple patent claim against Samsung

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 31 2012 03:00 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2012 11:05 PM

TOKYO - A Japanese court Friday rejected Apple's claim that Samsung stole its technology, dealing a blow to the iPhone maker after a US jury ordered its South Korean rival to pay over $1.0 billion in damages.

The ruling by the Tokyo District Court was the latest chapter in a bitter global patent war between the smartphone giants who have accused each other of stealing intellectual property for their own products.

The Japanese court found that Samsung did not infringe on Apple's iPhone and iPad patents for some of its own Galaxy smartphones and tablet computer. The three-judge panel also awarded legal costs to Samsung.

"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)," Judge Tamotsu Shoji told the court.

Apple had sought both damages and to block the sale of its rival's products in the lucrative Japanese market. As well as dealing a blow to the US firm, the ruling will help Samsung pick itself up after the US defeat, analysts said.

Samsung, which has steadfastly denied its rival's claims in a string of similar cases filed across the globe, hailed the Tokyo court's ruling.

"We welcome the court's decision, which confirmed our long-held position that our products do not infringe Apple's intellectual property," it said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman in Japan declined to comment.

The decision comes a week after the iPhone maker won more than $1.0 billion in a massive US court victory over Samsung with jurors finding that the South Korean firm had "willfully" infringed on Apple's patents.

The Japanese case, which focused on Apple's claim that Samsung stole technology used to transfer music and video files, sought a comparatively small amount, 100 million yen ($1.27 million), in damages.

But Apple had also requested an injunction to block Samsung sales in Japan, where both firms' offerings are increasingly popular in a market previously monopolised by domestic giants such as Sony and Sharp.

"It was a ruling on just one technology so it is difficult to draw any conclusion on its overall impact," Michiru Takahashi, a patent lawyer at Jones Day in Tokyo, told AFP.

"But this has followed Samsung's defeat in the United States and if Samsung had lost again it would have considerably hurt its image. In this sense, the ruling helped Samsung pick itself up somewhat," she added.

The high-profile verdict in the United States last week affects patents on a range of Samsung products including some of its popular smartphones and its Galaxy 10 tablet.

Jurors rejected the South Korean electronics firm's patent theft counterclaims against Apple.

Last week, a court in Seoul ruled the pair had swiped each other's technology and awarded damages to both sides.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled Apple breached two of Samsung's technology patents, and ordered it to pay 40 million won ($35,000) in damages.

It also ordered Samsung to pay 25 million won for violating one of Apple's patents. Each company had sought damages of 100 million won from the other.

The judges said there was "no possibility" that consumers would confuse Samsung and Apple smartphones -- a key issue in the US trial -- and that Samsung's smartphone icons do not infringe Apple's patents.

But it said Samsung infringed Apple's patent for bounce-back technology, the widely copied spring-back behaviour that occurs when a user reaches the edge of a document.

The court imposed a partial ban on product sales in South Korea of Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad 2, as well as Samsung's Galaxy S and Galaxy S II among other products.

The patent cases come as Apple loses ground to rivals including Samsung that use the Android operating system developed by Google.

Samsung shipped 50.2 million smartphones globally between April and June, while Apple sold 26 million iPhones, according to research firm IDC, which said Samsung held 32.6 percent of the market compared to 16.9 percent for Apple.

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