US’ ITC to review Samsung violation ruling


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 - Page 15

Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s largest smartphone producer, persuaded a US trade agency to review a preliminary ruling that more than a dozen models of its mobile phones copied Apple Inc’s patented features.

The US’ International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington said on Wednesday it would review the findings and it ordered a judge to address specific issues on two of the four patents found to be infringed.

ITC Judge Thomas Pender in October last year recommended that the agency order a ban on US imports of Samsung products found to violate Apple’s patent rights.

The review means a final decision, originally scheduled for March 27 this year, will be pushed back. The case is one of dozens in which the world’s two largest smartphone makers are using their patents to try to force each other into changing products or removing some models from store shelves. They are fighting for increased share of a mobile-device market that researcher Yankee Group expects to double to US$847 billion by 2016.

Apple has generally been more successful in its litigation in the US, including a US$1 billion jury verdict it won in August last year that Samsung is trying to overturn. Samsung has filed regulatory challenges to some of Apple’s designs in Europe to keep German cases on hold and it won a ruling in the UK that it did not infringe an Apple design patent.

“We remain confident that the full commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position,” said Adam Yates, a spokesman for Samsung.

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said the company had no comment.

Pender in October last year said that Samsung infringed a design patent for the flat front face with wider borders at the top and bottom and a lozenge-shaped speaker slot above the display screen. Apple’s design chief, Jonathan Ive, and its late co-founder, Steve Jobs, were among the inventors.

Also found to be infringed were a feature patent for a multi-touch screen that lists Jobs and Apple’s former iOS software chief Scott Forstall among the inventors; one that covers the translucent images for applications displayed on a screen; and one for a way to detect when headphone jacks are plugged in. There was no violation of two other patents, he said.

Each side asked the commission to look at aspects of the case it lost.

While the commission said it was reviewing the decision “in its entirety,” it told the judge to issue additional findings regarding infringement of two of the patents. The review concerns whether Samsung products infringe elements of the patents for translucent images and headphone jacks.

The commission said it did not need additional written arguments from the parties at this time.

Pender will have to set a new deadline to complete the probe.