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Samsung did not infringe Apple patent: Tokyo court

TOKYO -- A Tokyo court on Friday dismissed Apple Inc.'s claim that Samsung had infringed on one of its patents — the latest ruling in the global legal battle between the two technology titans over smartphones.

The Japanese court case addressed only the synchronizing technology that allows media players to share data with personal computers and was not comparable in scope to the much larger victory that Apple won in the U.S. last week.

Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, the world's largest maker of phones, welcomed the Tokyo District Court ruling that its technology that allows media players and personal computers to share music files and other content did not infringe on Apple patents as confirming “our long-held position.”

“We will continue to offer highly innovative products to consumers, and continue our contributions toward the mobile industry's development,” the company said in a statement.

The Apple lawyer present at the courthouse declined comment, and the company said later it had no comment, including whether it intended to appeal. In the past, Apple has accused Samsung of copying Apple products.

In a session lasting just a few minutes, Judge Tamotsu Shoji said he did not think Samsung products fell into the realm of Apple technology and dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Apple in August last year.

Apple, the Cupertino, California-based maker of the hit iPhone and iPad, is embroiled in similar legal tussles around the world over whether Samsung smartphones, which rely on Google Inc.'s Android technology, illegally used Apple designs, ideas or technology.

In one such case, a jury in California ruled last week that Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.

The jury awarded Apple US$1 billion in damages, and a judge is now evaluating Apple's request to have eight Samsung products pulled from shelves and banned from the U.S. market, including popular Galaxy model smartphones. Samsung's latest hit, Galaxy S III, was not part of the U.S. ruling.

Samsung shares closed 1.48 percent higher in Seoul on Friday.

Friday's ruling was the first held in Japan in the Samsung-Apple global court battle, but other technology is being contested by the two companies in separate legal cases in Japan.

Seo Won-seok, an analyst at Seoul-based Korea Investment & Securities, said the Tokyo verdict showed that the lawsuits around the world are largely isolated and may not be affected by Apple's major victory in California.

“The favorable ruling for Samsung convinces me that lawsuits in other countries may play out differently from the one in the U.S.,” he said.

“It was a ruling on just one technology so it is difficult to draw any conclusion on its overall impact,” said Michiru Takahashi, a patent lawyer at Jones Day in Tokyo.

“But ... if Samsung had lost again it would have considerably hurt its image.”

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People walk past an advertisement for Samsung Electronics at a subway station in Seoul, Friday, Aug. 31. (AP)

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