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(LEAD) (News Focus) U.S. jury verdict may stall Samsung's smartphone ambition
By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. jury verdict in favor of Apple Inc. has raised views it may obstruct top smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co.'s attempt to win an epic battle against the iPhone maker to cement supremacy in billion-dollar global smartphone market, industry watchers said Saturday.

   The two rivals, who are also business partners in the mobile industry, valued at US$219 billion, have accused each other of infringing their respective patents for design, technology and user interface. The legal wrangling, that began in April 2011, has now developed into "the patent war of the century" and stretches across four continents.

   While Samsung and Apple are facing off in nine countries, the latest verdict on the iPhone maker's home turf is deemed as one of the most crucial in their high-stakes battle that could shape the future of the global smartphone and tablet computer market.

   The verdict delivered by a nine-member jury awaits U.S. district court Lucy Koh's ruling as well as appeals that are likely to be filed by Samsung, but market watchers said jury verdicts have rarely been changed in later stages.

   Analysts said the almost clean win for the Silicon Valley firm is unlikely to dent the top smartphone maker's clout but may weigh on its strategies and financial situation, especially in the U.S., the world's biggest smartphone market.

   "The payments Samsung may have to make to compensate for damages may weaken the company's profitability," said Kim Uno, an analyst at Hanwha Securities Co., raising concerns about the company that has posted record profits on the back of robust smartphone shipments.

   "We have to wait for the final ruling, but the results are also likely to affect the company's future device releases," Kim said.

   Analysts said the ruling may have an influence beyond the U.S. as the two sides are locked in a spate of patent suits around the world.

   While courts may have different viewpoints, they often use previous cases for reference. In a recent Seoul ruling, the presiding judge referred to a case in the Netherlands to explain some disputed points.

   Despite the verdict in Apple's favor, market watchers believe the impact on the market will be limited for now as Samsung is expected to appeal, which is the first round of the many-to-come trials between the two rivals.

   "It's going to be a long fight. The verdict is unlikely to have a deciding impact on the two companies' market shares," said Shinyoung Securities Co. analyst Lim Dori.

   Samsung's market share stood at 32.6 percent in the April-June period, nearly twice Apple's 16.9 percent, according to market researcher IDC.

   Meanwhile, some optimists projected a favorable turn out for Samsung as the trials develop.

   "As the litigation proceeds, the complex information on Samsung's patents may be better understood. This may lead to some advantage for the company," said Park Young, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities Co.

   Local media reports had raised views that the nine-member U.S. jury, consisting of people outside of the technology arena, may grant an upper hand to Apple if their deliberation leant toward the softer side of the litigation rather the technological concepts that are difficult to understand.

   mil@yna.co.kr
colin@yna.co.kr
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