US ITC to review decision in Apple complaint against Samsung

A Commission judge had earlier ruled that Samsung infringed four Apple patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission has decided to review an earlier decision that found Samsung Electronics' products infringed four patents owned by Apple.

The four patents relate to the ornamental design of a device, commands through finger contacts on touchscreen displays, a method and apparatus for producing translucent images on a device, and audio I/O headset plug and plug circuitry.

The commission, which has the authority to ban products from sale in the U.S., said on Wednesday that it had decided to review a decision in October by the administrative law judge (ALJ) , which found that Samsung had infringed four Apple patents in its products, while also ruling that Apple's complaint with regard to two other patents was disallowed.

The ITC on Wednesday also decided to remand the investigation to the ALJ with regard to two patents.

In a recommendation in November, ALJ Thomas B. Pender said that the commission if it finds a violation should issue a limited exclusion order directed at Samsung's products found to infringe U.S. Patent numbers D618,678, 7,479,949, RE41,922, and 7,912,501. A limited exclusion order instructs the U.S. Customs Service to exclude from entry all articles covered by the patents at issue, and that originate from a named respondent in the investigation, in this case Samsung.

Pender also recommended that Samsung should be required to post a bond of the entered value for mobile phones, media players and tablet computers that infringe the patents during the period when the U.S. President reviews the exclusion order.

In a filing in December to the ITC, Google said that "Apple asserts patents that cover only small aspects of the feature-packed Android platform and that do not drive consumer demand. These interests do not justify an exclusion order." The commission should allow a grace period of at least six months to allow Samsung to redesign its products to avoid any infringement found, it said.

The case before the ITC is one of several patent infringement disputes between Apple and Samsung, which aim to block sales of each other's smartphones and tablets in various markets.

In another dispute between Apple and Samsung before the ITC, the commission decided to review an earlier decision that Apple did not infringe four patents of Samsung in its mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad. The patents asserted in the dispute are U.S. Patent Nos.7,706,348, 7,486,644, 7,450,114, and 6,771,980 and can be looked up on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

A jury in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, decided in August that Samsung must pay Apple US$1.05 billion for infringing several of its patents in Samsung smartphones and tablets. Samsung and Apple have another patent dispute before the same court.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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