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Samsung’s Injunction Bid Against Apple Hits Setback

Published: March 15, 2012 | 9:41 am
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SEOUL—A court in the Hague said Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +2.38% can’t pursue injunctions against Apple Inc. AAPL +3.64% for infringing standards-essential patents so long as it appears willing to negotiate license agreements, the Korean company said Thursday.

The Dutch court said Wednesday it cannot be said that Apple didn’t comply with the clauses on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, so Apple is allowed to sell their products in the Netherlands, said Samsung Electronics’ spokesman James Chung, adding that this also means Apple should negotiate with Samsung on royalties.

The court ruling marks the latest setback for the South Korean electronics giant in its patent battle against Apple. The two companies are engaged in a string of legal action globally, after the iPhone maker initially filed a U.S. suit against Samsung in April, alleging that its smartphones and tablets copied important design elements of Apple products.

The Hague court’s decision is also significant as Samsung is awaiting the results of a European Commission investigation that started last month over whether the South Korean firm is using its wireless patents, known as “standards-essential,” to distort the market for mobile devices such as phones and tablets in Europe.

The standards-essential, also known as Frand (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms in intellectual property rights terminology, is a licensing obligation under which patent holders help to set industry standards by contributing patents to international bodies and make them available to other companies, generally for minimal—though reliable—royalties to make gadgets compatible with each other.

Samsung, the world’s largest technology company by revenue, has countersued Apple in several countries, saying Apple was using some of the Korean company’s patents, including standards-essential patents, without authorization.

Apple Korea spokesman Steve Park reiterated that Apple needs to protect its intellectual property rights.

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware, to the user interface and even the packaging,” he said. “We need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas,” he added, declining to elaborate.


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