samsung-logo-001Last Friday, the US International Trade Commission blocked imports of some older model Samsung mobile devices following complaints by Apple that the South Korean company had violated its patents.

This is the latest ruling by the Washington-based trade body in a long-running and bitter global battle over alleged patent infringement between the two smartphone and tablet computer giants.

The ITC ruled that Samsung had infringed two Apple patents – numbers 949 and 501, dealing with touchscreen actions and headphone jack plug-ins – but cleared the South Korean company of charges that it had violated four more.

Apple welcomed the ITC ruling while Samsung expressed its disappointment.

“With today’s decision, the ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung’s blatant copying of Apple’s products,” Apple said in a statement.

“Protecting real innovation is what the patent system should be about,” it said.

Spokesperson Adam Yates said Samsung is “disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple’s patents”.

Apple has however been stopped from trying to use its overbroad design patents to achieve a monopoly on rectangles and rounded corners,” Yates said, referring to design features at issue in rejected patent claims.

It was unclear precisely which devices would be targeted in the ban, but it was aimed at early model smartphones and tablets that are no longer hot products in the United States.

The import block is subject to a review by the White House and Samsung will be allowed to continue to sell the items at issue during the two-month review period.

The ITC ruling also opens a door for Apple to try to use the same patent violation claim against newer Samsung gadgets that have incorporated the same technology.

In a separate battle in US federal court, Samsung was ordered last August to pay more than $1-billion for patent infringement, a ruling which also opens the door to a ban on some Samsung devices.

A judge later slashed the award to $598.9-million. Apple continues its quest to get other Samsung mobile devices banned in that case.

Legal brawls between Samsung and Apple became common after the South Korean company began gobbling smartphone market share with devices powered by Google’s free Android operating system.

Credit: iafrica