Impact of Apple-Samsung patent war undecided

Updated: 2012-08-29 16:23


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SEOUL - Global credit rating agencies Wednesday took a wait-and-see stance on a patent battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple as the so-called "patent war of the century" has not ended yet.

"It is premature to assess the impact of the patent lawsuits on our credit ratings on Samsung Electronics because further developments in this dispute are likely in a number of countries," Standard & Poor's said in an e-mailed statement.

A US federal court jury ruled last week that Samsung infringed on six of seven Apple patents, awarding the iPhone maker $1.05 billion in damages. Apple sought a sales ban on eight Samsung smartphones. Samsung and Apple have been embroiled in around 30 patent lawsuits at nine countries around the world.

S&P warned that Apple's request for a ban on sales of eight Samsung products in the US market had the potential to expand to other products, but it assessed that its ratings on Samsung were not immediately affected by the US jury verdict given Samsung's strong liquidity and its ability to generate solid operating cash flow.

As of the end of June, Samsung's liquidity holdings reached around $21 billion. In 2011, Samsung's mobile division contributed to around 33 percent of total sales and over 50 percent of operating profit.

Moody's also assessed that the verdict would not have any immediate impact on Samsung's ratings given the South Korean firm's diversified business position and substantial financial cushion to absorb the cash damages, noting that the longer term effect on Samsung's operations could become material.

"The impact from this verdict could be more material in the near term if it leads to a ban on the sale of Samsung's new products in the US market, and over the long term if it ultimately undermines its competitiveness in the mobile segment, which is the cash cow for the company," said Annalisa DiChiara, a senior analyst at Moody's in Hong Kong.

Moody's stressed that Samsung's response to changes in the mobile landscape, including R&D expenditures, product development, and launch schedules, could affect its competitive position and financial profile, saying that the longer-term credit implications for Samsung will go beyond the direct revenue impact on the mobile division.