June 07, 2013 10:38
The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Apple's iPhone and iPad infringed Samsung patents.
Article 377 of the U.S. Customs Law prohibits imports of products that infringe American patents, and the ITC is the organization that determines whether they do.
The latest ruling, which was published on the ITC website Tuesday, needs to be approved by President Barack Obama within 60 days.
Apple products are manufactured overseas and qualify as imports. Obama could choose to ignore the ITC's ruling, but that would be unprecedented.
However, Apple does not stand to lose much since the products in question have already been discontinued or are about to be. They are the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the 3G-enabled iPad and iPad 2. Those that are still sold have already been imported into the U.S. and are in storage, so they will not be affected by the ruling.
Apple argues its current iPhone 5 does not infringe Samsung's patented technology since it contains parts bought from Qualcomm, which is legally allowed to use the Korean electronics giant's patents.
The ITC accepted the argument against Samsung’s protestations.
The ruling is nonetheless a significant victory for Samsung in its global patent war with Apple. Samsung's chief weapon is standard patents deemed essential to manufacturing mobile communications devices.
Apple has argued that it is wrong to block imports of products that infringe standard patents, and a Northern California district court accepted that argument and ruled last year that the U.S. firm does not owe Samsung any damages.
Samsung's appeal as well as other cases is likely to be strengthened by the ITC decision.
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