Court decisions announced recently in South Korea show the state has become influenced by major tech industry players: Samsung and LG, and all companies from all other countries, have to obey the rules they set.
As the mainstream media reports show, Apple and Samsung are violating each other’s patents. The Seoul court found that Apple is violating two Samsung wireless patents—identified earlier as standard-essential patents—while Samsung was found to be infringing an Apple patent. The ruling imposes minor amounts of damages (Apple has to pay 20 million for each patent it violates, Samsung 22 million) and a sales ban affecting the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.
In other words: if you are a foreign company, you have to ask Samsung or LG permission to enter the mobile market, bow to extortion by these two companies, give up your non-standard-essential intellectual property, etc., maybe even stop selling your products in South Korea. How could this happen? Well, it’s easy: Samsung and LG account for 20% of the county’s GDP. Compared to this percentage, Apple means nothing in the US.
Furthermore, the ruling that Apple infringes two [sic!] Samsung patents comes as a bolt from the blue, looking at the litigation track record of both companies. Samsung hasn’t been able to win a single patent battle in all 30 countries where the two tech giants have ongoing lawsuits, while Apple has several victories in under its belt.
Now, all of a sudden, Samsung wins two injunctions. Interesting, isn’t it? If you have a 3G/UMTS standard in your hand—recently identified as standard essential patent, which requires fair play, meaning you have to license it under fair terms—in a country where your influence is high, it’s easy. But unfair, as well.
Now, it will be interesting to see Apple’s reaction to the ruling. I’m sure the company will appeal. However, the highest stakes aren’t in South Korea, where the popularity of the iPad pushed Samsung tablet sales behind, but in San Jose, California, where the two have been having their most fierce court battle. The decision is now in the hands of the jury, as Apple and Samsung CEOs couldn’t resolve it.Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback