Russian Court Overturns Import Ban On Samsung Smartphones

Too late? Days after Samsung halts device shipments to Russia, a local court overturns an IP ruling last year against 61 smartphone models

Samsung Electronics won an unexpected legal victory in Russia on Thursday, but it seems to have been rendered moot by Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

In October last year, the Moscow Arbitration Court banned Samsung Electronics from importing and selling 61 models of smartphones in Russia over an intellectual property lawsuit pertaining to its Samsung Pay system.

Samsung Pay is a contactless payment service, that uses a Samsung smartphone linked to a Visa or Mastercard payment card, provided by the likes of Natwest, Santander, and Nationwide.


SQWIN lawsuit

The Russian ban stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Switzerland-based SQWIN SA.

SQWIN has alleged that Samsung Pay infringed on its electronic payment system patent that is registered and thus allegedly protected in Russia.

The Russian court had on 27 July 2021 upheld SQWIN SA’s claim but did not list the devices in question, leading the Swiss-based company to file an appeal in August.

Then on 19 October the Russian court listed the 61 Samsung models the company was prohibited from importing and selling in Russia.

Then ban was never implemented as Samsung appealed the ruling, but now Reuters is reporting, (citing the state Russian owned RIA news agency) that a Russian court has upheld Samsung’s appeal, and overturned the import ban.

“We are fully satisfied with the appeal decision and that Samsung’s arguments were carefully considered and accepted,” said Natalia Gulyaeva, managing partner at Hogan Lovells in Moscow, one of Samsung’s legal consultants on this case.

Samsung meanwhile said it welcomed the decision.

SQWIN SA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moot point

But the court’s decision is essentially irrelevant anyway, considering the fact that Russia is being placed behind a tech ‘iron curtain’ as many firms have halted business in Russia, after most of the world imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine invasion.

Shortly after Russia’s invasion, Apple announced it was halting sales of its physical devices in Russia, mirroring similar moves by nearly all major technology players.

Samsung was one of those who announced it would halt shipments of devices to Russia because of “geopolitical developments.”

Samsung it should be remembered is the leading smartphone player in Russia with 30 percent market share in Q4 2021, ahead of Xiaomi’s 23 percent and Apple’s 13 percent respectively, according to Counterpoint.