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Samsung Electronics and Apple started what may be a long lawsuit battle in the Republic of Korea (News Letter No. 249)



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1. Samsung Electronics and Apple started what may be a long lawsuit battle in the Republic of Korea

Samsung and Apple filed an appeal against the first patent trial of the Seoul Central District Court last month.

After the Court sent the decision of the trial on September 3, 2012, Apple submitted a petition for appeal on September 5 and Samsung followed with an appeal submitted on September 6.

On August 24, 2012, Department 11 of the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Seoul Central District Court decided that Samsung Electronics infringed one (1) patent of Apple and Apple infringed two (2) patents of Samsung Electronics and directed the two companies to stop manufacturing and selling the relevant products and to discard them. According to that decision, the sale of a total of twelve (12) products (including Galaxy S and Galaxy S2, Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1, etc.) of Samsung Electronics was prohibited and the sale of iphone 3GS, iphone 4, ipad 1 and ipad 2 of Apple within the Republic of Korea was prohibited.

2. A video icon and logo are protected by designs

The protection of graphic designs such as video icons, logos, etc. is strengthened.

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that it would revise the Design Protection Law completely setting a goal of its enforcement on January 1, 2014, to strengthen [a] the competition of the Korean design industry.

In the design industry, a two-dimensional visual design such as a graphic design has been developed and its use has been expanded and diversified. KIPO will positively reflect these environmental changes in the design industry and therefore it will protect the two-dimensional graphic designs (such as video icons, logos, etc. which were not protected under the Design Protection Law or were insufficiently protected) as rights.

When a graphic user interface (GUI) such as a video icon is registered as a graphic design, since the effect of its right reaches to all IT products having LCD, nobody cannot use it without the permission of the owner of the right.

At present, a video icon can be registered as a partial design of one (1) article and the effect of the right reaches only the article. In order to reach the effect of the design right to all articles to be protected, the design right should be registered to each of the articles. Therefore, the protection of the right is insufficient and restricted.

Additionally, in the case where a logo is used for brand identity (BI) or corporate identity (CI), even though the logo cannot be registered as a trademark because it does not meet the strict registration requirements, if the creativity of its design is approved, it can be registered as a graphic design and therefore it can be more strongly protected.

3. Apple facing stiff competition in LTE patents took tenth place with 318 patents this year

Apple had no patents relating to [a] long term evolution (LTE) which is a fourth generation mobile communication until the end of last year. This year, Apple registered a lot of relevant patents and this is expected to result in a ‘severe second round patent battle’ with Samsung Electronics.

According to KIPO, Samsung Electronics took first place with 819 patents (12.7% of the total of the LTE standard patents), by adding 140 patents (20.6%) compared with the end of the last year, based on the results of analysis of the LTE standard patents reported to the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI). ETSI is an organization which is responsible for the standardization of information and communication technology of the European countries. Since ETSI actually determines the world mobile communication standard patents, each company reports the relevant patent(s) to ETSI.

Following Samsung Electronics, InterDigital, a non practicing entity (NPE) which is specialized in managing patents (so called patent dealer), took second place with 780 patents (12.1%). So, in this situation, this company may threaten Korean companies anytime.

Huawei, a Chinese company, took fifth place with 402 patents (6.2%) in the first half of this year, by adding 98 patents (32.5%). Apple having none of the LTE standard patents until the end of last year newly entered tenth placed with 318 patents (4.9%) this year.

KIPO analyzed 318 patents of Apple. As the result, 44 patents are Apple’s own patents; 214 patents are in the wireless communication field, which were purchased from Nortel, a Canadian company, in 2011; and 56 patents were purchased from Freescale, a US semiconductor manufacturing company.

Since Rockstar Bidco, a NPE, the biggest shareholder of which is Apple, owns 116 LTE standard patents, in fact the number of Apple patents is presumed to be about 420.

4. LG Electronics dominates the LTE market by ‘designs’ and ‘patents’

LG Electronics made its bid for victory in the LTE smart phone market, with a ‘design’ and ‘patent’.

LG Electronics started to drive the LTE phone market in the second half of this year by launching the “Optimus G” which is a premium level strategy smart phone at home and abroad at the end of September.

The differentiated design of Optimus G which was launched in the Republic of Korea, Japan and North America is attracting attention.

Optimus G looks like a dressed-up smart phone. This is characterized by applying the construction method of making ‘a cover glass and a touch panel in all in one’, to reduce the bezel and the thickness. The bezel is 3mm and the thickness is about 8mm. Further, when the smart phone is off, the screen color and the black color of the body are same, having an effect that the boundary of the screen disappears. In addition, the back side is processed by the crystal reflection method. This makes the design and image to look different according to the angle of view and the angle of light.


The number of foreigners using the English version of Korean patent abstracts has rapidly increased this year, showing an increase by three times in comparison with the same period, last year (News Letter No. 250)


A patent processing period will be shortened from 16.8 months to 10 months (News Letter No. 248)