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Samsung Ends Push to Block Apple in Europe After U.S. Ruling (2)

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. will withdraw patent lawsuits seeking to block sales of Apple Inc. products as part of litigation in Europe, hours after a U.S. court ruled it wouldn’t halt sales of some Samsung smartphones.

Samsung will unilaterally withdraw its request for injunctions against Apple in Germany, U.K., France, Italy and the Netherlands, a senior official at the company said.

Samsung and Apple, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, have traded victories in their patent disputes fought over four continents since the Cupertino, California-based company last year accused Asia’s biggest electronics maker of “slavishly copying” its devices. The companies, competing for dominance of the global smartphone market estimated by Bloomberg Industries at $219 billion last year, are fighting patent battles even as Apple remains Samsung’s biggest customer.

“Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple onthe basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice,” the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Apple Shares

Apple shares rose 1.1 percent to $524.62 at 9:47 a.m. in New York today. Alan Hely, a spokesman for Apple in London, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and a phone call seeking comment.

Samsung shares rose 0.8 percent in Seoul today following the U.S. ruling and before the company’s announcement on the European cases. The increase came after two days of losses, extending its gain for the year to 43.2 percent.

Apple’s request for a U.S. sales ban on 26 Samsung devices was rejected by a federal judge yesterday following a California jury verdict in August finding infringement of six of the iPhone maker’s patents that awarded Apple $1.05 billion.

Apple failed to establish that consumer demand for Samsung products was driven by technology it stole, U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California, said in her ruling yesterday. She said it wasn’t in the public interest to bar Samsung’s devices because the infringing elements constituted a limited part of Samsung’s phones.

26 Products

Only three of the 26 products that Apple sought to block are still being sold according to Samsung: the Galaxy S II by T- Mobile, Galaxy S II Epic and Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Newer smartphones made by both companies, including Samsung’s Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5, already have been added to a related lawsuit in which Apple and Samsung accuse each other of copying products. That case is also before Koh and is scheduled for trial in 2014.

Most of the European injunctions that Samsung is withdrawing involve the company’s claims that Apple infringed its patents over so-called standard-essential technology for wireless communications, the company official said. Such patents are selected as an industry standard that must usually be licensed on fair terms.

Samsung’s move won’t affect a London trial that started last month where the company is seeking damages from Apple for using protected technology without authorization.

Compete Fairly

“We strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court,” Seoul-based Samsung said in its statement.

Samsung’s injunctions also triggered a European Union antitrust investigation that examines whether the company violated agreements to license standards-essential patents to other mobile-phone manufacturers on fair terms.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, declined to comment on whether Samsung’s decision to end the lawsuits would affect the EU’s antitrust probe.

The patent disputes began when Samsung released its Galaxy smartphones in 2010. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed before his death last year to wage “thermonuclear war” to prove that phones run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system copy the iPhone.

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