Apple has won the upper hand in the latest round of the tit-for-tat patent infringement suits being lobbed between the two electronics giants.
Last week the US International Trade Commission ruled Samsung had infringed two key Apple patents covering the detection of headphone jacks and the operation of touch-screens. The result of the finding is that older Samsung devices using technology covered by the patents will face a sales and import ban into the United States.
The ruling comes close on the heels of the Obama administration’s overturning of a similar ruling, this time favouring Samsung, that Apple had infringed a single Samsung-owned patent. The finding by the US ITC would have seen older Apple devices covered by the infringing patent banned from sales and import into the US.
This would have included the original iPad and iPad 3G models, along with a handful of older iPhone models including the 3GS and the iPhone 4. Newer models, including the iPad 4, iPad mini and iPhone 5, would not have been covered by the overturned import ban.
At the time the ban was overturned, South Korea issued a strongly worded denunciation of the move, saying that it put international patent laws in jeopardy, and also claiming the United States had embraced a protectionist stance.
The difference between the two bans is said to hinge on the fact Apple’s alleged infringement was on the basis of needing to comply with essential industry standards. Samsung’s infringement, which hinges on core operational technology (such as touch-screens) does not appear to fall under the requirement to comply with international standards.
Apple, which often does not comment on industry matters, issued a statement saying that the courts had “stood up for innovation and rejected Samsung’s blatant copying of Apple’s products.”