Samsung wins a U.S. import ban on AT&T iPhone 4 and older 3G iPads

June 4, 2013
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Apple

Every time we turn around, Apple and Samsung seem locked into yet another patent dispute. Internationally, many of these battles end in favor of Samsung. Stateside? Well – we all remember Apple’s big win against Samsung in California just last year.

This time around, Samsung has turned the tables on Apple, as the U.S. International Trade Commission has now issued a ban on several AT&T versions of older Apple iDevices including the iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G.

As you might already know, the ITC is responsible for handling trade into and out of the United States. Since Apple’s devices are made overseas, the ban would prevent these older devices from entering the country.

So what led to the ban of all these Apple products? It all comes down to the violation of just a single patent, No 7,706,384, entitled “appartus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system.” According to Sammy, Apple had used technology on its older devices that violated the patent, though apparently this doesn’t apply to newer Apple devices.

Apple had previously hoped to get the patent classified as a “standards essential”. This would have meant that the technology would be open for use by Apple on a ‘fair use’ licensing basis. Unfortunately for Apple, this didn’t happen.

So what’s next? This is a final ruling and must be overridden by either the White House or the federal circuit courts, it also won’t go into effect immediately. Additionally, Apple has already declared plans to appeal the decision.  Basically, the fight isn’t exactly over just yet.

If these are old products that aren’t even on store shelves anymore (with the exception of the iPhone 4) why does this ‘win’ even matter? For a couple reasons.

First, it’s a symbolic victory. Sure, we aren’t talking about the iPhone 5 or the latest iPad, but the point is that Apple doesn’t win them all, home ground or not. It is also nice to see Apple get a taste of its own medicine.

Second, this could hopefully set a precedent. Globally we are seeing Sammy win more victories than losses as of late. We are also seeing several cases thrown out, and patents invalidated. The tide could be finally be turning in Samsung’s favor.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of the patent wars. I want companies to stop bickering over these little claims in and out of the courtroom, and instead prove themselves where it matters the most: through their products.

What do you think of this latest victory for Samsung?

This situation is currently developing. If we hear more, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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