Apple and Samsung face Korean sales ban

As a US jury prepares to deliver its verdict in the high-profile patent case between Apple and Samsung, a South Korean court has determined that they’ve both been copying each other’s products.

The Seoul Central Court has imposed a sales ban on several devices as a result: Apple’s Iphone 3GS, Iphone 4 and the original Ipad and Ipad 2 tablets, along with Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 smartphones, the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets.

The companies’ newer devices, the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3, aren’t affected.

Although the ruling goes against Samsung as well as Apple, it’s being widely seen as a victory for the Korean company. Apple was found to infringe two Samsung wireless patents which have previously been characterised as standards-essential. Not so the patent Samsung’s been found to infringe, covering  the ‘bounce-back’ graphical effect when users try to scroll beyond the edge of the screen.

And where similar cases have been brought in other countries, such as Germany, Samsung’s been unsuccessful in winning its claims.

Patent expert Florian Mueller sees the ruling as the beginning of a trade war between South Korea and the US.

“This is highly problematic and will have diplomatic repercussions. The victims of such abuse will be companies from the United States, Europe and Japan, and increasingly also Chinese companies,” he says.

“I don’t know what Apple is going to do, but it would make sense to talk to both US presidential candidates at the earliest opportunity.”

It’s highly likely, though, that one or both the companies will appeal the ruling, which in South Korea means hearing the whole case again from scratch.