By Roberta Cowan
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court has ruled Samsung Electronics does not infringe an Apple Inc patent by using certain multi-touch techniques on some of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.
Samsung and Apple, the world's top two smartphone makers, are locked in patent disputes in at least 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative mobile market and win over customers with their latest gadgets.
Apple scored a sweeping legal victory over its South Korean rival in August when a U.S. jury found Samsung had copied critical features of the hugely popular iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.
But a judge has not yet ruled on Apple's request to permanently ban some of Samsung's products from the U.S. market, and the U.S. company has also faced some setbacks.
Apple argued in September in the Hague court that Samsung infringed its patent on multi-touch function, which lets users use two fingers at one time on a touch screen.
"With these products Samsung does not infringe the claims that Apple has made," the court said in its ruling on Wednesday.
Apple has taken Samsung and others to court over the "pinch to zoom" function popular on smartphones and tablets.
Apple lost a preliminary injunction on this patent in the Dutch courts last year and also lost its battle in the courts in Britain against HTC Corp, and in Germany against Samsung and Motorola Mobility, which is owned by Google.
The Dutch court acknowledged that its multi-touch patent ruling was similar to those in Britain and Germany.
Samsung said it welcomed the Dutch court's decision, while Apple declined to comment on the ruling.
The Hague has become an important court room battle ground between companies making mobile phones and tablet computers, as court actions there are considered to be cheap, speedy and efficient.
The Dutch court's ruling comes ahead of a decision in the United States from the International Trade Commission on Thursday over claims that Samsung infringed on Apple patents.
(Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Mark Potter)