A number of Apple devices, including the iPhone X and iPad Pro, run the risk of being banned from South Korea, the home of Apple’s long-time frenemy Samsung.
The Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy is currently investigating allegations that Apple has infringed on a patent belonging to KAIST, a public research university based in South Korea. The investigation period has already been extended twice, and BusinessKorea suggests that the regulatory commission is likely to make its “final determination” in favor of KAIST.
“We are currently looking into whether Apple infringed on the patent of KIP, a subsidiary company of the KAIST,” said the Korea Trade Commission. “The targets include iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, iPhone X, iPad 9.7, and 9.7-, 10.5-, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro imported from China and Hong Kong.”
While Apple and Samsung are often positioned on opposite sides of legal battles, however, in this case they may be in agreement. Currently, Samsung Electronics is involved in litigation against the KAIST in the United States, where it is claiming that the patent is invalid. It filed a similar lawsuit back in July, arguing the same thing with the Intellectual Property Trial and Approval Board of South Korea.
In response, the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy said that it, “cannot but pay attention to the litigation in the U.S. and South Korea involving Samsung Electronics, although our current investigation is targeting Apple.”
Because of these different factors, it’s difficult to forecast an outcome to this case. However, a ban on importing the aforementioned Apple devices is certainly an option. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail. Or that, if the ruling does go against Apple, that it is able to write a check to license the technology.