Apple Inc. patent wins could mean US import ban for Samsung phones

Aug 10 2013, 08:01 IST
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Panel's move would mean ban on certain Samsung models in US Panel's move would mean ban on certain Samsung models in US
SummaryPanel's move would mean ban on certain Samsung models in US

Some older Samsung Electronics Co. mobile devices face a sales and import ban in the United States after a US trade panel ruled for Apple Inc. in a high-profile patent infringement case.

The US International Trade Commission on Friday ruled that South Korea's Samsung infringes on portions of two Apple Inc patents on digital mobile devices, covering the detection of headphone jacks and operation of touchscreens.

The decision is likely to inflame passions in the long-running dispute and could spark a rebuke from South Korea.

The panel moved to prohibit Samsung from importing, selling and distributing devices in the United States that infringe on certain claims on the patents. It is unclear how many Samsung phones and devices would be subject to the ban.

All exclusion orders are sent to President Barack Obama, who has 60 days to review them. If he does not veto the order, it will go into effect.

Apple was ebullient. "The ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung's blatant copying of Apple's products," said company spokewoman Kristin Huguet.

The ruling was the latest in a patent battle between Apple and Samsung that has spread across several countries as the companies vie for market share in the lucrative mobile industry. Samsung and Apple are the Nos. 1 and 2 smartphone makers.

But it comes less than a week after the Obama administration overturned an ITC decision from June that would have banned the sales of some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads in the United States for violating Samsung patents.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman vetoed the ban on Saturday, cited its "effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers."

That move, the first veto of an ITC ruling in decades, triggered concerns in the South Korean government and led to closer scrutiny of Friday's ruling than usual.

Letting the ban on Samsung devices stand after having so recently intervened in the Apple case could spur allegations the administration is showing favoritism toward Cupertino, California's Apple.

But a key difference between the cases is that the patents Apple was said to have infringed were so-called standard essential patents, which cover technology that must be used to comply with industry standards. The patents in the latest case are considered commercial and non-essential.

Four other patent infringements asserted by Apple were turned down on Friday by the ITC

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