German court rules against Samsung in Apple patent suit

Summary:Apple sues, Samsung countersues. But Samsung lost its latest case against Apple which sought to prove that the Cupertino-based giant infringed its patents.

A German court has ruled that Apple has not infringed Samsung's patents, but has not said why.

Samsung, which passed Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker in the third quarter, has not said whether it will appeal the ruling.

"We are disappointed that the court did not share our views regarding the infringement by Apple of this specific patent in Germany," Samsung said in a written statement.

The ruling covers one patent that relates to the 3G/UMTS wireless communication standard. The court has not yet ruled on two other patents in the same case, one of which includes a smiley face emoticon.

Samsung also has four other lawsuits ongoing against Apple in Germany that relate to six patents.

According to FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller, he would be surprised if the ruling "turned out to be based on FRAND issues", which allow for the fair licensing of patents for interoperability across mobile devices and networks.

He believes that either the case fell due to "patent exhaustion", or what appears more likely, is that Apple was simply not seen to infringe the patents. If patent exhaustion were the reason, it would see Samsung's case against Apple collapse. Yet, Samsung could still prevail if Samsung's "other assertions of [patents] in Germany could still succeed".

Apple first sued Samsung in April last year, claiming that its Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets "slavishly" infringed a number of design patents relating to the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung countersued, claiming that Apple had infringed a number of its mobile technologies.

The Korean smartphone maker won a round against Apple in December, after an Australian court lifted a sales injunction on the sale of its Galaxy tablet in perfect timing for the Christmas shopping season.

The patent war between the two companies has spread to over 30 cases in 10 jurisdictions, including Australia, Europe, and the United States.

According to Reuters, Samsung has spent in the region of $60 million in Apple-related legal costs since April.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Legal, Samsung

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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