One step forward, two steps back: ITC rules that Samsung infringes four new Apple patents

by: AdrianOctober 25, 2012

We’ve had plenty of twists and turns in the Apple vs Samsung patent war over the last few months, but things have gotten crazier than ever these past couple of weeks. Sammy seemed capable to rise from its ashes despite a long string of painful defeats, but just when we were ready to celebrate a couple of meaningful wins for our Android kings, Apple hit back.

And what a hit it is! Definitely not as massive as the one from California in August, but much more important than Samsung’s minor wins of late.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has made a preliminary ruling regarding new Apple accusations of infringement on four patents, finding Samsung once again guilty of copying Cupertino “innovation”.

The four patents relate to both design and software, but have nothing to do with those that have been the subject of the California trial currently in appeal. That means Samsung is in a new sea of trouble, though the ITC’s ruling is only preliminary, being given out by Judge Thomas Pender until it can be reviewed by the full commission.

Even if the commission’s decision will also be in favor of Apple (and it could well be), it’s not all doom and gloom for Samsung, as the case will then pass through the usual law hoops, including several appeals before the accusations can be taken in front of a jury.

What should be Sammy’s immediate concern is a possible Apple motion for import bans, which might well follow this preliminary ruling. That could hurt Samsung badly, although we don’t know yet exactly what phones are accused of infringement of these patents.

It could have been even worse for the Korean-based company, as Apple’s original complaint, filed in July 2011, brought accusations regarding five utility and two design patents. One patent was withdrawn soon after, while Judge Pender’s ruling found no violation of another two.

The four remaining ones describe “an ornamental design of an electronic device” (U.S. Design Patent D618,678), “a touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics” (7,479,949), “a method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display” (RE41,922), and “an audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry” (7,912,501).

As usual, Samsung quickly issued a formal statement through the voice of Adam Yates, Director of North America Corporate Communications, which said that “There is no legal basis for the motion for injunction by Apple. We will continue to serve our customers and sales of Samsung products will proceed as usual. Samsung will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.”

Meanwhile, Apple declined to comment on the ruling, although we’re guessing celebratory dances are going on in Cupertino as we speak. Still, this is only one, albeit pretty important, won battle for Apple, with the war being wide-open for new surprises. Samsung’s got something cooking too, so everything’s to play for.

Do you agree? Is this another normal day for the Apple vs Samsung brawl? Or could it be the final nail in Sammy’s coffin?

  • Samsung should join hand with Google in order to fight with Apple. As Google & Samsung are working together for high resolution Device so that they can compete with Apple’s high resolution device.

    • babiasu

      And also join hand for fighting regulators in Europe, US and ITU for abusing patents.

    • Aren’t they already doing that?

  • Mark Patrick Klyne

    Does anyone else find it odd that Apple is only winning fights in its own country against a foreign company during a time where the economy is slow? I’ll just leave it at that

    • Abhishek Kumar

      Samsung does the same in Korea.

      • shahzil arif

        i dont know

      • hohopig

        really? Did you even do a fact check? The Korea court mete out punishment and place and blame on BOTH party. That is definitely a more even handed verdict than these one sided verdict in USA.

    • androidreality

      i share you toughts.

    • babiasu

      While Samsung is failed everywhere except Korea is not odd, and on top of that Samsung face patent abuse accusation.

      • john

        Not in UK. lol

      • hohopig

        Haha, how ignorant you are. Do a simple google check and you will see that UK, Dutch and Japan found no merit in Apple’s accusation. While Germany reverse the judgement after appeal as well as Australia, which S.Korea actually manage to be more even handed and lay the blame on BOTH party, which is where it should as patent should not be a basis of anti-competitive behavior.

        • babiasu

          They are not Samsung winning, they are Apple’s failure to win. In the other hand, all Samsung assertions (patent abuse to be exact) are failed except in Korea, that raise foreign business’ fear to invest in Korea. So they both only win in their home country.

    • No because corporations payoff officials in the U.S. ALL the time. The judicial system and government will whore their support for money. Apple=payouts for wins.

  • shahzil arif

    i like apple actually samsung cheated apple i herd on BBC ITS true…

    • Omar W

      elaborate a little more..

  • Pravas Kumar

    Haha I like the graphics..

  • Tony

    It is just a bloody ploy buy Apple to get rid of Samsung and it’s Android phones, since they are one of the worlds biggest suppliers of mobile phones. Just a kind word to Apple, the world under your feet is going to crumble, don’t think it will last forever. 1st I was of the opinion that iPhones were all good, but after having discovered Android phones, that has changed, plus I do not need a software to install my apps or even for that matter music or videos, which I found to be a real foolish thing on your part to do, I love to just dump my folders of music in my Android and no hassle. You just can’t live with the truth, Android will be No. 1 like it or not. Sorry for waking you up. But it is the reality you will live with for the rest of your lives. I just recently upgraded to Sony Xperia Go, with ICS, damn so sweet. Hate me for that. hahaha.

  • vtoast

    This is getting old! Someone needs to stop Apple junk!
    It is a fact that in seversl issues Samsung invented the ideas first.
    Why do you think Samsung is four Not Guilty in all the other countries?
    It will be thier demise!

  • Taylor

    at what point do we stop this silly arguing over “intuitive” design, if this continues the future of america and any product is going to be a courthouse because something looks or works close to the same way as something else, you can sue someone over the shape of something right???

    • Taylor

      should be can’t sorry eveyone