A number of Apple devices, including the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPad Pro, are “likely” to be banned in South Korea.
According to a new report from BusinessKorea, the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy is investigating the allegations that Apple infringed on the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) FinFET-related patent.
“We are currently looking into whether Apple infringed on the patent of KIP, a subsidiary company of the KAIST,” said the Korea Trade Commission under the ministry, adding, “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.”
In an interesting twist of fate, however, Apple may end up being saved by the intervention of Korean rival smartphone supplier Samsung.
The original dispute between KAIST and Apple originated when the former accused the iPhone giant of infringing upon its FinFET-related patent. Now, because Apple’s chips do use this technology, the logical outcome would be in favor of KAIST — but the actual dispute doesn’t lie there. Instead, Apple is claiming that the patent KAIST currently holds is invalid, something Samsung agrees with.
Apple’s arch-rival Samsung, which uses the same FinFET tech in its homegrown Exynos chips, has already filed litigation challenging the validity of KAIST’s patent in US courts. It also filed a similar lawsuit back in July, arguing the same thing with the Intellectual Property Trial and Approval Board of South Korea.
“We cannot but pay attention to the litigation in the US and South Korea involving Samsung Electronics although our current investigation is targeting Apple,” the ministry remarked. “This is because Samsung Electronics submitted evidence to refute the novelty of the patent, which is required for the patent to be regarded as being valid.”
News of the potential ban in South Korea comes just a day before Apple’s highly-anticipated “Gather Around” launch event, where it’s expected to show off three new iPhones and a new Apple Watch, among other products.