Apple has gained yet another victory in patent battles with Samsung Electronics with a preliminary ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
The commission on Saturday rejected complaints against Apple the Korean company filed in June last year that Apple violated two of its communications technology patents and two commercial patents.
ITC Judge James Gildea in a statement said the complaint is groundless. The ITC is to issue a final ruling in January after additional investigation, but past practice shows that very few preliminary rulings are reversed.
The ITC ruling deprives Samsung of major leverage in its dispute with Apple in the U.S. When Apple filed a suit against Samsung with a U.S. court over a design patent last year, Samsung countersued and chose to file the complaints with the ITC.
Considering that most Apple products in the U.S. market are actually produced in foreign countries such as China and imported, Samsung asked the trade watchdog to ban imports of the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, the iPad 1 and iPad 2.
Apple also asked the ITC last July to ban imports of Samsung's portable devices.
The ITC is an independent agency under presidential supervision with a staff of about 400 specialists under a six-person committee of judges and senior public servants. It has the authority to ban imports.
Earlier last month, a jury in the Northern District Court of California issued a verdict in favor of Apple.
Apple has received a tremendous response for the iPhone 5, unveiled last week, with online pre-orders selling out in just an hour despite some experts grumbling that it offers no great innovation over previous models.
Until the summer, Apple lost ground to Samsung in the U.S. smartphone market due in part to the delayed launch of the iPhone 5.
But Samsung seems hopeful that the ITC will change its mind. A Samsung executive pledged to provide "sufficient explanation" so that the final ruling will recognize its patent rights.
Samsung has stepped up marketing efforts, placing ads in U.S. newspapers last Saturday that list a number of comparisons between the iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S3.
Samsung is expected to release its new smartphone, the Galaxy Note 2, in the U.S. next month.