ITC ruling finds Samsung does infringe four Apple patents

The fierce courtroom war between Samsung and Apple is still raging around the world. With around 40 separate cases in progress. The latest result is very much in Apple’s favor as U.S. ITC (International Trade Commision) Judge Thomas Pender, a has ruled that Samsung is infringing on four Apple patents mostly relating to touchscreen technology.

It is a preliminary ruling and the full details will only be released after Samsung and Apple are given an opportunity to redact portions. The ruling is subject to review by the full commission which is not scheduled to complete its investigation until February next year.

“If left to stand, this initial determination could lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for the American consumer,” said a Samsung spokesperson. “We remain confident that the full commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position that patent law must not be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.”

Apple has yet to comment.

According to FOSS Patents, one is about the “ornamental design of an electronic device”, another covers the “method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display”, the third concerns “audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry”, and the final patent which was co-invented by Steve Jobs describes a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics.”

That last “Jobs patent” is still being reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as it seeks to establish whether it really does constitute a new invention.

While the battle with Apple is certainly not going Samsung’s way in the U.S., that’s not the same story in the rest of the world. A Dutch court ruled yesterday that Samsung devices do not infringe an Apple patent related to multi-touch gestures. Apple has tried to sue over “pinch-to-zoom” before and lost a case against HTC in the UK and another against Samsung and Motorola in Germany. In a similar decision, the court in the Hague agreed that Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets do not infringe the patent either. The court statement said “With these products Samsung does not infringe the claims that Apple has made.”

This ITC ruling gives Apple another opportunity to disrupt sales of its biggest rival’s products. The two companies are due to meet in California again in December in the aftermath of Apple’s victorious verdict which saw a jury agree with claims that Samsung had violated Apple patents and award over $1 billion in damages. Samsung still says the trial was unfair while Apple is seeking more damages. We’ll keep you posted.

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