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

by: Andrew GrushJune 4, 2013


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.

  • Until something is banned. There is no victory. Just as Apple has not beaten Samsung yet, no money has changed hands

  • Nick Schiwy

    This is getting beyond ridiculous…

  • Joshua Hill

    Completely agree. The whole thing is a disgrace. However, as an no US citizen it’s been odd that their judges and juries seem to be Apple Fanbois when the rest of the world has been a bit more impartial.

    Definitely chalk this up as a win for Samsung. Now if the manufacturers would just stop these silly patent wars as the author states and focus instead on producing great devices the consumer would win.

  • steve blow jobs

    keep it going Samsung ! behind you all the way !

    • anthonyakl

      like ur name/nick.

  • Serves you right Apple!

  • Alex Zhao

    Apple deserve it. Tim Cook is a fool to start this first. Samsung just doing self-defence.

    • mobilemann

      so you know, Nokia started it. This is also based on frand patents, so it doesn’t serve them right at all. I’m not super pro apple, anymore than i’m pro samsung, but just so you know; they are in the wrong.

      Technology is not a team sport kids.

      • FRAND applies to standards essential patents. These patents are not standards essential patents. Apple tried to have them made standards essential patents, while using the patents unlicensed in fact, but this didn’t happen. So they Apple saw a patent that they wanted to use and while not having a license they used it anyway.

        • mobilemann

          you’re right, this isn’t one of the multiple times samsung sued using frand, my apologies. This time they are suing over a piece of tech which only covers the intel version of said cdma chip; which went over to qualcomm for the 4s onwards, who has licenses for it. (as i understand it)

  • K.

    On one hand, these patent wars are very stupid because many of the patents are minor or should not have been granted in the first IMO. But on the other hand, if the patent is not about something trivial, companies must protect their R&D.
    Each time I read about a company getting a ban on their product for a patent violation, there is no mention of any kind of financial compensation. Most of the time the ban is on old products (although the new ones also violate the patent) and if there is no compensation who cares in end.

    • Mike Bastable

      after the ban there is usually negotiation behind the scenes to facilitate a fir license deal ,these details are always kept secret. Good points though in general you hit the nail on the head.

  • Mike Bastable

    Fanboys fanboys…patent essentially encourage innovation. Apple has won many times, Samsung occassionally with wireless communication tit for tat court cases. The issue remains the Galaxy series was launched built on a base that blatantly and willfully copied the iPhone (the fact that Samsung’s products are AWESOME!!!!.Is not relevant). Samsung’s own internal documents lay out the process of this very clearly. They should
    be punished. These wireless cases are merely there to muddy the water. Innovation from apple LEAD us directly to the brilliant S4…Samsung should pay some kind of license fee. Samsung has a history of corporate fraud and product theft,essentially KIRFing their competitors. We should not defend them. However, now with better resources and recently increased R&D we are beginning to see real Korean innovation. Good luck to them!!!!, with their own products.
    So what have all the patent wars achieved, interestingly better products. OEMs from mainland China are now innovating, establishing a brand presence and not just copying Apple ( huwaei, OPPO, ZTE etc)….Android has got stronger by differentiating itself from OSX.
    So the knee jerk reaction Apple bad, Samsung good is silly…
    I love the new Samsungs, admire the iPhone and own a Sony Z…

    • Daniel

      Let’s get some things straight:

      In almost every case, patents constrict innovation.

      Samsung did not copy some technology that Apple created *ahem* what patents are for *ahem*. Samsung copied their style to try to take the market Apple created. Apple did not make a new product; they made a new market. The iPhone was not the first touch screen smart phone. It was the first successful one.

      And even if it was the first, would they have really invented it? No, they would have just been making a product that the rest of the market was already going to create anyway. We all had designs in our heads of where smart phones were going. This is because, when humans create things, they always copy. Apple simply proved what features we wanted in our smart phones, and Apple created zero of those features (without copying).

      • Mike Bastable

        Daniel, o Daniel, we “all had these designs in our heads”, really? The world’s Nr1 Smartphone maker (at that time) Nokia certainly did not!, you should consider a job predicting future Gadgets for the CE Industry immeadiately! Tell me please what is coming NEXT!

        People forget how big a change the iPhone was!…it was a real breakthrough. Apple collated existing tech into a new and great product.

        The Humans create / copy argument is also brilliant: long live the creative works of those notorious copycats DaVinci, Picasso, Renoir, Ferrari, Porsche, Boeing, etc etc. I do not think that would stand up to in court scrutiny. However you may wish to sell this argument, along with your designs in your head for future phone innovation, to Samsung. They may need it in the Appeals court.

        If you wish to actually understand anything about the Patent system read

        Patents allow inventors / companies to protect ideas and earn from they, they also identify and allow for essential patents for newly developed market segments (these to be FRAND licensed) to avoid stifling future development / competition.

        • Daniel

          The “iPhone” was going to happen regardless of what Apple was doing.
          Thanks for praising me as a genius for figuring that out back then, but it’s not that hard. I can even tell you what technologies are coming next. Can I tell you what companies will sell the most and make the best ones and when? No.

          Human innovation and creation always have starting points. Yes even those artists you listed that will be difficult to directly refer to since I am typing on a phone and I need to get to sleep. They didn’t start from nothing. They were inspired and they learned from others before them. My point isn’t one of belittling any single human’s ability. Rather I think we should embrace collaboration. That is what patents commonly prevent.

          If the scenario is such that a patent makes it beneficial to risk R&D costs, then the system may help innovation. But once the next mind comes along and wants to implement the previously patented technology into a new technology, now there are added costs to innovate.

          • Mike Bastable

            being first helps (iPhone), patenting the hell out of the user interface helps more! Though i agree with most of your points you, and many others here miss the point of the Apple VS Samsung case totally. Samsung (a Korean multi national with a history of product theft and a small r&d dept. STOLE the design language, interface design and spirit of the MOST successful Smartphone ever!, other OEMs (LG, HTC etc) DID NOT. Samsung grew into the behemoth we now know on the profits generated by this spectacular theft, to the proven detriment of Apple and Samsung’s competitors in the android handset world. to such an extent that they can now outspend the rest of the Android community massively and maintain an unfairly gained nr1 position. THIS should be punished and they are culpable.

            Samsung DID have R&D developing BADA, this they abandoned to concentrate on the Galaxy series of copy phones. Recently they have take nthis knowledge and put it to good use (S4 and Tizen etc) but current acts should NOT preclude punishment for prior actions.

            I would love collaboration. apple promoted this by having Eric Smidt from Google on their board, he repaid them by secretly redesigning Android behind their backs to compete with their product. A case of collaboration NOT working.

            Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Apple should be pleased. Microsoft imitated Mac. Google imitated IOS. Samsung imitiated the iPhone. Now i know Apple sometimes imitates too, but usually with a level of innovation.

            Licensing will always cost money, why not>?

            I like the way Samsung is NOW developing its own software to differentiate its products, much of it is useless but it is there! I like Samsungs new design language setting it apart from the other OEMS. I love Samsungs brilliant Customer Service (apple copy that!) But there always remains the BUT< Blatant product theft. No other android handset maker did it to the extent and with the success of Samsung. They should divy up, pay Apple and MOVE ON!

            The new Samsung is a much better company confident and fit for the next wave of innovation. Apple is also prepping a new wave of Products and services. It will be good to see them both fight in the marketplace!

            But i would like Android blogs and Users to stop this knee jerk reaction to Samsung criticism, thet deserve it. A cursory look at this site proves that a headline that is negative to Apple generates plenty of comments (most inane) and android Authority is a major offender using apple bashing to generate traffic. Maybe a rename: Android gossip in needed. lol.
            Have a good sleep and give me a kicking again when wake up.

      • mobilemann

        Let’s get something straight Daniel. Trade dress is much more of a legitimate lawsuit than FRAND patents.

        Seriously, i understand some of the “you suck”comments, but even kids on an android blog should see both sides, don’t you think?

        or are you just another idiot fanboy?

        • Daniel

          Trade dress had nothing to do with my point. Samsung is being accused of not making something new. My point is that people can never make something new.

          You can’t stay on topic. You resort to name calling. Good bye.

          • mobilemann

            I asked if you were an idiot fanboy, because your comment indicated that you only saw one side of a complex argument.

            Reading comprehension, is a good thing. As for trade dress not being on topic, it’s you that veered off topic, and me replying to you.

        • You may find that Trade Dress is a legitimate lawsuit. However, Samsung hasn’t copied Apple’s trade dress. Anyone that tries to claim that any of the galaxy phones look like an iPhone beyond simple similarities is an Apple fan boy in my book.

          • mobilemann

            I’m sorry but Samsung borrowed a ton, and they have moved away from the more blatant attempts, but the chargers, boxes, app icons in their stores, use of faux leather

            Denying their very obvious attempts makes you a massive samsung fanboy in my book. I rock a sgs3 with cm10.1 nightlies myself, but I don’t feel the need to cheerlead.

    • Oh my you are one of those? Let’s get something straight, the iPhone was not the first touchscreen smartphone or even the first in development. You mention in one of your replies to Daniel that being the first to market(iPhone) helps. However the first to market was actually the LG Prada. Sadly being the first to market didn’t help them. Also the Android OS first went into development in 2003 where the iPhone and iOS didn’t go into development until 2004. Why do so many people perceive the iPhone as the first you ask? Because being the marketing geniuses that Apple are, the iPhone made the biggest splash.

      You say Android has improved by differentiating itself from iOS. On the contrary, iOS has been getting copycat features from Android since the start. Android was revealed as an OS that easy quite different from iOS and Apple made iOS more like Android. When Android was revealed in Oct of 2007, it had the ability to install 3rd party apps which was something that iOS lacked at the time. In fact Apple made a statement earlier that year telling developers that if they wanted to develop for the iPhone they could simply make Web apps that would run in Safari. Now pay close attention to this part. The same month that Android was revealed with the ability to install apps already in place, Apple made an announcement that they were working on adding the ability to install 3rd party apps. It was until 5 months later that they rolled out that functionality in March of 2008. It wasn’t long after that their marketing team triumphed again and kicked off the “There’s and app for that” campaign. This once again set in the publics mind that the iPhone was the first with that functionality.

      Apple doesn’t innovate, they simple market their products better than the competition.

      • mobilemann

        Trent, comparing the resisitive prada phone, to the phone that would bring an entire platform to life, is ridiculous.

        the appstore was released before android hit v0.9, and well before android was released commercially. (app store was launched july 08, android 1.0 (which didn’t even support on screen keyboards) was released in late september of the same year.

        android didn’t get video recording, an on screen keyboard (and 3rd party keyboard) setup, bluetooth support and widgets until april 2009, 2 months before iOS 3.

        I know it’s android authority, but stop being a cheerleader. Apple and Google pushing each other forward is good for all of us.

  • TechGuy

    These patent wars are only good for the legal profession. For the most part they are not in the interest of the consumer and many of the patents should never have been granted in the first place.

    Innovative technology should be protected but electronic implentations of ‘real world’ physical items should not be patentable. Thank goodness the wheel, steam engine and similar items are not patented.

    In too many instances it seems that patents impede new products due to the myriad of licensing agreements that have to be negotiated completely needlessly.

  • deepen03

    Go SAMSUNG Go!

  • James Childress

    I am hoping Samsung is looking at the bigger picture. A way to get Apple off their backs and force them to agree to drop the lawsuit they won against them last year in return.

  • swannanoa72

    Why Apple resorted to filing these patent infringement claims and cases in the first place, is what beats me. It is a fact that their products are seen as premium, have a good fan base in the US and they don’t have any mid-ranged products to offer anyway – not till sometime to come at least. Cook had also gone ahead to state that the rise in sales of Android based phones and tablets won’t hurt either their sales or their growth in any way. So, targeting Samsung, whose products range from mid to high end, over design and other technical patents appear to be rather uncalled for.

    • Tim Cook is just putting on a strong face. Apple absolutely are threatened by the success of Android and that is exactly why they have been going after Samsung in the courts. Steve Jobs made that perfectly clear when he declared “thermonuclear war” on Android.

      • mobilemann

        i think he’s a lot more reasonable than Steve. Steve never would have been open to doing android apps as tim cook indicated. Or would have ever said the words “opening up iOS” as tim said in D11.

        Here’s hoping they keep that stuff up.

  • RarestName

    Ha, Samsung and Apple both have their older devices’ imports banned :D

  • Guest

    Its the scene :P

  • SymonDT

    In other words, Apple :P

  • Friðberg Leifs Jensson

    Karma baby! :D

  • Jimmy