TOKYO — A Japanese court on Friday rejected patent claims made by Apple against Samsung, a victory for the Korean company after its crushing defeat in the United States last week and a reminder of the global scope of the patent war between the two technology giants.
With a judge in South Korea having handed down a split decision in a patent case earlier, Apple and Samsung remain neck-and-neck in legal disputes spanning almost a dozen countries.
For both companies, Japan makes up a far smaller proportion of sales than the all-important US market.
But the Tokyo ruling suggests that despite Apple’s victory in the United States last week — which included a $1 billion judgment against Samsung — jostling between the two companies for the upper hand in the fast-growing smartphone and tablet segments is just beginning.
The Tokyo District Court ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets did not violate an Apple patent on technology that synchronizes music and videos between gadgets and servers.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., had sued Samsung in Tokyo last year in a case that sought $1.3 million in damages.
Apple has filed other patent suits in Japan against Samsung, including one alleging the South Korean company copied Apple’s signature ‘‘bounce back’’ effect when a user scrolls to the end of a list on the iPhone and iPad. Apple has also asked for an injunction that would prevent Samsung from shipping some Galaxy smartphones to Japan. Samsung, as in other countries, has countersued Apple in Japan, saying both the iPhone and iPad infringe on Samsung patents.
In a statement, Samsung Electronics, based in Suwon, South Korea, said the ruling had validated its assertion that it had not copied Apple.
“Samsung has strongly asserted that its technology is altogether different and does not infringe on Apple patents. The ruling recognizes the legitimacy of Samsung’s assertions and is highly valid,’’ it said.
Apple representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
Still wildly popular, Apple hardly needs a lift in Japan. Its iPhone was the top-selling smartphone in Japan in 2011, while Samsung’s Galaxy series trailed in the number five spot — behind smartphones made by Sharp, Fujitsu, and Sony Mobile, according to the MM Research Institute of Tokyo.