ITC finds Samsung infringed two Apple patents, orders import ban

One observer says the decision could affect relations between the US and South Korea, depending on what comes next

The U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that Samsung infringed two smartphone patents held by Apple and that therefore some of its phones should be blocked from importation to the U.S.

The Friday ruling is the latest step in a multinational fight between the world's two top smartphone makers that has been going on for two years.

ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender recommended in December last year that some Samsung smartphones be banned from importation to the U.S. because they infringed on four Apple patents. A month after that ruling, the ITC said it would review the decision, and Friday's announcement is the result of that review.

It confirmed Samsung infringement of two Apple patents: U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, which covers a touchscreen and user interface, and U.S. Patent No. 7,912,501 that covers detecting when a headset is connected. But it said Samsung didn't infringe the other patents in question.

"The Commission's determination is final, and the investigation is terminated," the ITC said in a statement.

"It probably helps Apple's position because it gives them another bargaining chip, but in the overall scope it's just another tick on the wall of Apple against Samsung," said Susan Ross, a partner at Los Angeles-based law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

The original case addressed four models of Samsung phones that are now off the market, so the impact of any ban is not immediately obvious.

The import ban will go into effect in 60 days unless blocked by a presidential review. In practice, such reviews are done by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Last week, the USTR shot down an ITC ban against Apple products in a related case in which the ITC had determined that Apple had infringed Samsung patents and should have some of its products blocked from importation into the U.S.

Ross said the biggest fallout from the ruling could be in the political arena, especially if the USTR doesn't decide to block the import ban. Despite the USTR's action last week, such blocks are very rare.

"It could affect our relationship with South Korea and their perception of the fairness of U.S. courts," she said.

The ITC announcement comes hours after lawyers from Apple and Samsung met in the D.C. courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Both Apple and Samsung presented 15 minutes of oral arguments to the court, which is hearing an Apple appeal of a decision by the California judge not to ban several models of Samsung cellphones from sale.

The appeal is related to a case that played out through most of August 2012 at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. That case resulted in Samsung being found guilty of multiple counts of patent infringement and assigned a damages award to Apple of just over $1 billion.

The damages were later reduced by $450 million by Judge Lucy Koh, who also declined an Apple request for a sales injunction against the Samsung phones in question.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleconsumer electronicssmartphonesSamsung ElectronicsCivil lawsuitsiPhonelegalAndroid

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?