Samsung has confirmed to local media that it will not take legal action with the aim of blocking the sale of the Apple iPhone 4S on its home turf in South Korea.

The company’s decision to avoid legal action in Korea represents an about-turn on its earlier stance, where it was trying to counter Apple’s lawsuits against it with those of its own. Samsung now appears keen to avoid negative publicity from its attempts to deprive Koreans of the chance to own the new Apple device.

A senior Samsung executive is quoted by The Chosunilbo as saying:

We concluded that we should engage in legal battles with Apple only in the global market, but not in order to gain more market share in Korea.

The report does claim, however, that it was a late decision and that Samsung “had debated until the last moment whether to file the motion”. It could well be that the move does not have the unanimous support of all at Samsung HQ.

The manufacturer was on the back foot from the moment that Apple got the green light to launch its iPhone 4S device in Korea after receiving radio approval some six weeks ahead of the initial schedule.

Samsung stated its intention to try to ban the sale of the phone in Korea back in the middle of October. While it never took things further in Korea, it did file a legal case in Australia which has caused plenty of controversy after Apple was forced to reveal the terms of its deals with Australian operators.

The ongoing global legal spat between the duo recently took a significant turn with the news that the European Commission, the legislative body of the European Union, is investigating Samsung for a possible abuse of FRAND licensing. The outcome has the potential to force the Korean firm to drop its litigation cases in Europe.

Elsewhere in Europe, Samsung previously saw a sales ban fail in Holland, the country where it was forced to modify three of its Galaxy smartphones for sale after the models were adjudged to have infringed on patents held by Apple.

Other spats continue in the US — where Apple designers will soon begin testifying — and in  Italy, as the two mobile giants continue to lock horns over the use of mobile technology patents in their respective smartphones.