Samsung wins another patent battle in Europe

The thermonuclear war between Samsung and Apple is being won by the South Korean outfit in the EU even while it loses in the US.

Samsung’s hold on the European justice system seems remarkably strong after winning a key case in Holland yesterday.

A Dutch Court has confirmed that Samsung Electronics does not infringe an Apple patent by using certain multi-touch techniques on some of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.

The Apple friendly press has tried to claim that Cupertino has won the patent war after an extremely dubious victory in the US, where the phone maker was awarded $1.05 billion in damages.

However, that case is likely to be appealed on the basis that the jury foreman, who had reason to hate a Samsung supplier for suing him under patent law, admitted that he had ignored most of the law and swung the jury to see his way of thinking.

But Apple’s US hold was strengthened after an ITC judge confirmed that Samsung infringed Apple patents in making its Captivate, Transform and Fascinate smartphones, as well as the Galaxy tablet.

Judge Thomas Pender said that Samsung infringed four Apple patents but did not violate two others listed in the complaint. There had been seven listed initially, but one was dropped during litigation.

The International Trade Commission will decide in February whether to uphold or reject the judge’s decision.

Pender said that Samsung infringed an Apple patent that helps the touchscreen interpret if a user wants to scroll up and down or switch between applications. It was also found to have infringed a patent that allows the device to show an image on a screen with a second, translucent image over it.

But things have not been going so well in the EU. Apple argued in September in the Hague court that Samsung infringed its patent on multi-touch functions, which lets users use two fingers at one time on a touch screen. Apple has taken Samsung to task over the “pinch to zoom” function popular on smartphones and tablets.

Not only did it lose a preliminary injunction on this patent in the Dutch courts last year it also lost its battle in the courts in Britain against HTC, and in Germany against Samsung and Motorola Mobility, which is owned by Google.

The Dutch court said its multi-touch patent ruling was similar to those in Britain and Germany.

While this is a mess, it does not seem to actually mean anything. Samsung can, and has, simply released new hardware in the US which does not break Apple’s patents. So far not a single top of the range smartphone or tablet has been taken off the shelves in a way which would commercially give any ground to either side. Products which are banned are usually long gone after the appeals process is exhausted.

In other words the only side that is really winning in this battle are the lawyers.