Apple Inc. (AAPL) v. Samsung: Is South Korea Verdict a Hint?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been fighting Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in courtrooms all over the world over claims of patent infringement being thrown at each other – and Apple has come out on top in most of them. Well, except one. And as the U.S. version of this intellectual property battle is sitting in the jury deliberation room, a court sitting across the Pacific Ocean has handed down its own decision on a very similar case – and it’s essentially a case of home-court advantage.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had won eight “neutral-site” court decisions in in eight other courtrooms in eight other countries in its battle with Samsung, which makes smartphones using the Android operating system by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). Now, a South Korea court has provided its legal stand – and as expected, the court gave a victory to its home-country company, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

The court ruled that both companies infringed on each other’s patents and order a partial ban on products, though Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) faced a stiffer penalty. Apple was ordered by the court to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2 from South Korea stores due to infringing on two of Samsung’s five patents that were in dispute.  On the other side, the court found that Samsung infringed on one of Apple’s patents – involving the ‘bounceback” feature, which the screen seems to bounce as a user comes to the end of a file – which results in the ban of sales of the Samsung Galaxy S2 in South Korea. Also, the two companies have to trade awards – Samsung gets about $35,000 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), while Samsung pays about $22,000 to Apple.

The current jury decision in the U.S. may likely farther-reaching implications in the tech industry that virtually all other court decisions combined, simply because the U.S. is currently the largest smartphone market in the world (though places like China and India – each with about 1 billion people – are gaining steam). This decision could fall one of three ways – either Apple wins outright (an expert says that in 75 percent of patent cases, one smaller victory for a company usually means winning the whole war), Samsung wins outright , or there is a mixed verdict (similar to South Korea – which is only likely if the jury decides to go through and pick this case apart point by point).

Considering the size of the U.S. marketplace and the fact that these two companies make up about 70 percent of the market share for smartphones in this country, the implications for this decision are hard to even measure, much less fathom. no doubt many investors in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock – including Julian Robertson of Tiger Management – will be watching closely, as this verdict is expected sometime in the next week, just before the anticipated Sept. 12 unveiling of new Apple products – including a new iPhone.