ITC issues import ban on some Samsung products

ANICK JESDANUN, AP Technology Writer
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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal administrative panel has issued an import ban on some Samsung devices on grounds they violate two of Apple’s patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission issued its ruling late Friday. The ITC cleared Samsung on four other patents in dispute.

Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. are in a global legal battle over smartphones. Apple argues Samsung’s Android phones copy vital iPhone features. Samsung is fighting back with its own complaints.

The legal disputes come as competition in the marketplace intensifies. Samsung has been cutting into Apple’s dominance in phones and is now the leading smartphone manufacturer. Samsung is also pushing into Apple’s territory with its own Android tablet computers.

Although these cases typically involve older products that are no longer widely sold, a victory could affect what features are included in future devices and could slow down a rival’s momentum.

Last year, a federal court in San Francisco ruled that Samsung owed Apple $1 billion in damages for infringing on non-essential Apple patents. But the judge refused to impose an import ban on Samsung phones and later struck $450 million from the verdict, saying the jurors miscalculated. An appeals court in Washington heard arguments in that case Friday, but has not issued a ruling.

Separately, the ITC ruled in June against Apple in banning imports of the iPhone 4 and a variant of the iPad 2 after finding the devices violate one of Samsung’s patent. But last weekend, the Obama administrative invalidated the order, as it has the authority to do within 60 days of ITC rulings.

President Barack Obama is against import bans based on the type of patent at issue in the June ruling. U.S. courts have ruled that such patents cannot be the basis for import bans. But the ITC, which is an administrative agency and not a court, follows a different standard than the courts. The Obama administration wants the ITC to adhere to the same principles and has recommended that Congress limit the ITC’s ability to impose import bans in these cases.

The patents at issue in Friday’s ruling are unaffected, as they aren’t of the type Obama is against.

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