The U.S. International Trade Commission issued its much awaited ruling on a patent infringement case brought by Korean electronics giant Samsung against its bitter mobile rival Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday.
The ITC ruled against Apple in the case, agreeing that the company had indeed infringed on a data transmission patent owned by Samsung. Apple could be slapped with a ban on imports of different models of the iPhone 3 and 4, as well as the iPad 2 and 3G that the company made for AT&T (T). All import bans in the U.S. are subject to approval by the president, and Apple will be able to continue selling the aforementioned products for the duration of the 60 days that president Obama has to either accept or veto the ruling.
Both companies have squared off in court over the issue of patent infringement in the past as Samsung tries to enhance its increasingly dominant position in the $293 billion-a-year mobile market, and Apple tries to preserve what remains of its former dominance in that space. Last August, Apple won a $1 billion settlement over infringement against the Korean firm, at least $599 million of which will definitely have to pay.
That decision, however, did not block the sale of Samsung’s products as did Tuesday’s ruling against Apple. While Samsung has quickly taken over as the world’s largest maker of smart phones, Apple still dominates the market in the U.S., so the decision could be significant for the rivalry between the two. Together, both firms account for over half of the world’s smart phones.
Meanwhile, Apple is still waiting for an ITC ruling on another case it has against Samsung, which should be decided on the 1st of August. Apple has accused Samsung of having copied the look and feel of its own products in their Android-based Galaxy line of phones.
Other than a veto of the decision by president Obama, Apple would also have recourse to the federal appeals process to reverse the decision.
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