Apple, Samsung Both Losers in S. Korean Patent Ruling

Just days before a San Jose federal jury is to decide the US version of the Apple-Samsung patent dispute, a South Korean court has ruled that both companies violated each other’s patents.

The Seoul District Court ordered Samsung to pay $33,350 for infringing two of the intellectual property rights for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

On Samsung’s cross-claim against Apple, the Korean court found that Apple infringed Samsung’s wi-fi parents and ordered it to pay $22,000 in damages.

The small amount of damages reflect the minimal royalty rates set by S. Korea’s tech regulators in an effort to discourage the practice of companies tying up entire areas of technology with relatively basic or trivial patents on key components.

The more significant part of the S. Korean court’s ruling was the bans imposed on sales in South Korea of Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2, Samsung’s Galaxy SII and Galaxy Nexus smartphones and Galaxy Tab and Galaxy 10.1 tablet computers.

The lower court’s decision is likely to be appealed by both Samsung and Apple. However, the companies are likely to settle all litigation after the jury in the US trial hands down a verdict. The consequences of that verdict will be far larger for both companies, and, if upheld on appeal and not settled, could even result in the destruction of the mobile devices business for Apple or for Samsung.

Apple’s $2.5 billion suit against Samsung are based on alleged infringement of various design and functionality elements of the iPhone and iPad. Samsung’s counter-claim against Apple seeks $519 million for infringing on its mobile communications patents.

Other cases between the world’s two leading electronics brands are set to be tried in Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.