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Apple faces US import ban on several iPhone and iPad models after Samsung scores patent win

samsung apple torn header patent war court caseThe patent-related spat between Apple and Samsung rumbles on, with the Korean company scoring the latest victory.

A judge at the US International Trade Commission said on Tuesday that a number of older iPhone and iPad models infringed on a Samsung patent, granting the tech firm’s request for an import ban on those models.

The patent refers to cellular technology found inside AT&T models of the iPhone 3GS and 4 as well as 3G models of the iPad 1 and 2. So, to be clear, the iPhone 4S and 5, together with the iPad 3 and 4, are not affected by the ruling.

Fortunately for Apple, these devices are no longer the company’s main money-spinners, though they do still of course generate some cash for the company. An unlocked iPhone 4 currently retails for $450 on Apple’s website.

The tech giant does have a chance of seeing the import ban overturned – with the help of the president, no less. Obama has 60 days to review the order, in which time he has the power to veto it. If he doesn’t, the ban will be enforced. In the meantime, the infringing products can stay on the shelves.

In a statement obtained by Reuters, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet said her company was “disappointed” with the decision, and planned to appeal.

‘Free-riding’

Samsung didn’t hold back with its comments on the case, saying the ITC’s ruling “confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations.”

In the back-and-forth patent wars between the two tech titans, Tuesday’s judgment actually overturned an earlier ITC ruling. Back in 2011, Judge James Gildea said Apple did not violate the patents at the center of the case.

While this week’s ruling may not have too many consumers breaking into a cold sweat – all the infringing devices are, after all, still on sale – Samsung will nevertheless be buoyed by the decision as it continues its long-running battle with Apple in courtrooms around the world.