Samsung dealt second patent loss

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Samsung dealt second patent loss

Samsung Electronics lost the first round of a U.S. trade case brought by Apple, its second big loss this year in America as the companies battle worldwide over smartphone and tablet computer technology.

Samsung infringes four patents, including one for the front face of the iPhone and one for touch-screen technology co-invented by Steve Jobs, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice yesterday on the agency’s Web site.

The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to halt products at the U.S. border and is scheduled to finish its investigation by Feb. 25.

The case is one of more than three dozen between the makers of about half of the world’s smartphones. Samsung, which lost a $1.05 billion jury verdict in August against Apple, is challenging a different ITC judge’s findings that its own patents weren’t infringed by Apple.

The Korean company has had more success in other countries, including a victory on Wednesday in The Hague.

“People see what’s happening in the other countries, but here in the U.S., every time they go up against Apple, they lose,” said Will Stofega, a program manager at researcher IDC. “Samsung will continue to fight. In the long run, this cult of Apple may not be a good thing to have.”

The judge’s findings will become public after both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.

If the commission agrees with Pender and orders a halt on imports, the action will be reviewed by the U.S. president, who can overturn the ban on public-policy grounds. An appeals court would review the overall case.

“If left to stand, this initial determination could lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for the American consumer,” said Adam Yates, a U.S.-based spokesman for Samsung. “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.”

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, had no immediate comment.

The two companies have run up hundreds of millions of dollars in legal bills in their patent disputes. Apple’s lawyers have argued it revolutionized the smartphone industry when it introduced the iPhone in 2007, only to see copycats from Samsung and other companies making handsets that run on Google’s Android operating system.

The design patent found to be infringed is for the flat front face with wider borders at the top and bottom and a lozenge-shaped speaker slot above the display screen. The other, in which no violation was found, is for the shape of the phone.

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