Apple may have won a sweep in its California patent infringement case lodged against South Korean Samsung Electronics. But elsewhere, opinions differ, as the legal battles are not always won by the Cupertino company. A recent ruling by a Tokyo court has dismissed Apple’s patent infringement claim against Samsung in Japan, saying Samsung did not infringe on Apple technologies.
The scope of the lawsuit is much smaller than the U.S. case, though. Apple alleged that Samsung infringed on its technology patents for sharing media across smartphones and personal computers. In the few-minute session leading to the ruling, Judge Tamotsu Shoji said he did not think Samsung’s products fell under the coverage of Apple’s patent, and the court therefore dismissed the case.
Samsung representatives say that the ruling confirms the company’s “long-held position” that its products do not infringe on Apple technology. “We will continue to offer highly innovative products to consumers, and continue our contributions toward the mobile industry’s development,” Samsung said in a statement.
Apple lawyers have declined to comment, reports the Associated Press, and it is unclear at this point whether the company wants to appeal the decision.
Putting things into perspective, though, FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller says the ruling is a non-win for Samsung and a non-loss for Apple, given the mostly trivial nature of the patent. As such, declaring Samsung a “winner” in this particular case is too formalistic. Yes, Samsung won, although it was not a significant win.
If Android companies in general and Samsung in particular want to score real wins, they have to enforce reasonably powerful non-standard-essential patents. If today’s Japanese ruling had awarded Samsung an (enforceable) injunction against Apple, it would have been a win for Samsung and a loss for Apple, and Samsung’s chances for a settlement on favorable terms would have increased significantly. But that did not happen today.
Other cases are pending in Japan, including a request by Apple to ban Samsung products in the country. These have not yet met a decision. Elsewhere, the $1 billion win by Apple — not including potential product bans and other fines — is the more popular legal case marking the legal battles between the two technology titans.
Observers have said that the California ruling might set a precedent for other jurisdictions and for other cases, although the Japanese case seems to indicate that courts are ruling on the patent disputes on a case-to-case basis, depending on the merits of the actual technology claims involved. But if Android were to really score a win against Apple, smartphone and tablet makers using the platform will need to enforce powerful patents by proving these in court.