U.S. agency: Apple infringes Samsung patent on older iPhones, iPads

Tue Jun 4, 2013 10:59pm EDT
 
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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics scored a victory over rival Apple Inc in their long-running dispute over mobile device patents after a U.S. trade agency issued an order banning older but still-popular Apple products from the U.S. market.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled on Tuesday that the Silicon Valley giant had infringed on a patent owned by Samsung that involves the ability of devices to transmit multiple services simultaneously and correctly through 3G wireless technology.

The independent federal agency slapped a ban on the import or sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T, the biggest seller of Apple devices in the United States when Samsung filed its complaint in 2011. The products are assembled in Asia.

U.S. President Barack Obama has 60 days to review the ruling. If he does not veto the order, it will go into effect.

It is not immediately clear what the impact could be on Apple or AT&T should Obama let the ruling stand, since the decision remains subject to a potentially prolonged appeals process.

While the products targeted are more than a year old, some models such as the iPhone 4 remain solid sellers.

The most recent version covered by the ITC's decision - the iPhone 4 - is now given away with a contract offered by carriers including Verizon Wireless, which is not affected by the ruling. The iPhone 4 could be phased out within a year should Apple stick to schedule and release a new version of the iPhone 5 in the fall as many in the industry expect.

Still, if the import ban goes into effect, U.S. customs agencies enforcing the ban could well end up delaying other Apple products, said Susan Kohn Ross, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.   Continued...

 
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Apple logo as he poses with an Apple iPhone 4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic