Samsung granted review of loss by U.S. ITC

The legal battle between the two biggest mobile makers in the world goes to higher court as the United States International Trade Commission decides to review a previous ruling that Apple did not infringe on Samsung patents.

Last September, a preliminary ruling by an administrative law judge said that Apple Inc did not infringe on Samsung patents. The ITC had the option to simply the initial ruling, but decided to take a second look at the matter. It is expected that a final decision will be given on January.

The appellate court’s decision against Apple could mean a ban on all Apple decision in the United States.

Apple won a landmark case against Samsung last August when a jury ruled against Samsung, declaring that the South Korean company imitated key features of Apple’s iPhone. Samsung was told to pay $1.05 billion in damages but it filed an appeal against the ruling.

The ITC announced that it would ask for briefings how it will view standard essential patents.  Such patents, essential for interoperability of devices, are expected to be licensed reasonably and fairly.

A number of antitrust advocates believe that it is not lawful for companies that own standard essential patents to demand banning of infringing devices from being sold in the country except in some extreme situations.

The ITC will review the findings of ITC Judge James Gildea in September, who ruled Apple was innocent in violating the four patents presented by Samsung in the middle of 2011.

Samsung complained in 2011 that Apple violated some of its 3G wireless technology and the format of data packets in transmitting high-speed data.

Apple countered by filing its own complaint accusing Samsung of copying some important features of its iPads and iPhones. Another ITC judge ruled in favor of Apple by declaring Samsung had violated four of Apple patents. ITC will give a final decision in February 2013.

Apple has been fighting around the world to uphold its patents against the onslaught of the fast growing Android operating system. Apple’s international patent war has involved many mobile makers including Samsung, HTC, and other firms running Google’s Android.

Steve Jobs has called Android, the currently number one mobile operating system in the world, as a “stolen product”.

Samsung is currently the number 1 mobile maker in the world in terms of sales and Apple is the third.

Experts consider Samsung’s Galaxy touchscreen tablets as the biggest rival to Apple’s more popular iPad.

Other than its biggest rival, Samsung is also a supplier to Apple’s need of micro processors, memory chips, and flat screens for its iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Apple has recently reduced its orders from Samsung especially for both AND memory chips and dynamic random access memory (DRAM), as well as screens.

Both Samsung and Apple are fighting for dominance for the $219 billion smartphone market. The South Korean company needs a victory against Apple to help in its strategy in dragging its litigation while at the same time avoiding copying Apple gadget’s key features, said Erin-Michael Gill, current managing director of MDB Capital Group LLC.

Adam Yates, a spokesman for Samsung said: “We remain confident that the commission will reach a final determination that affirms our position that Apple must be held accountable for free-riding on our technological innovations.”

Apple, for its part, did not comment on the pending case.

source: reuters | bloomberg