ITC to review Samsung’s claim of Apple as copycat

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ITC to review Samsung’s claim of Apple as copycat

Samsung Electronics will get another chance to persuade a U.S. trade agency that Apple’s iPhone and iPad infringe its patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said it will review “in its entirety” a trade judge’s Sept. 14 findings that cleared Apple of claims it violated four Samsung patents. Notice of the decision was posted on the agency’s Web site.

The commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents, is scheduled to make a final decision on Jan. 14.

The case is part of a global dispute between the two biggest makers of mobile devices as they fight for an increased share of a $219 billion smartphone market. Samsung is the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, while Apple dominates in the U.S. Apple has its own case against Samsung at the trade agency that’s being considered by the commission.

Samsung is seeking some leverage after losing a $1 billion jury verdict to Apple in August in San Jose, California. While the companies have each racked up victories and losses elsewhere, Apple has been mostly successful in the U.S.

Samsung, with 140,000 patents worldwide on products like LEDs, computer memory chips and TVs, filed its ITC complaint in June 2011 in retaliation for Apple’s claims of copying. The Korean company has been selling mobile phones since the 1980s.

Trade Judge James Gildea sided with Apple in September.

Copycat allegations

Apple’s lawyers have argued that the company 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.

In the third quarter, Samsung had a record 28 percent of the U.S. market to Apple’s 34 percent, said Alex Spektor, an analyst with Strategy Analytics.

Apple settled with Android-handset maker HTC this month, striking a 10-year licensing agreement. Apple said last Thursday that it is negotiating an agreement with Google’s Motorola Mobility unit for binding arbitration of their disputes over how to license patents relating to technical standards that all device makers must follow.

It seems unlikely that Apple will resolve its fight with Samsung as it did with HTC anytime soon. Shin Jong-kyun, head of Samsung’s mobile unit, was quoted in the Korean media last week as saying the company was not going to negotiate with Apple.

Samsung contends that Apple infringes four of its patents, including two that relate to how phones transmit data. Gildea said Apple didn’t infringe any of the patents, and that one, for a way to detect movement on a touch-screen, was invalid. The fourth patent in the case is for a way to detect phone numbers in e-mails so they can be dialed or stored in the phone’s contact list.

The case targeted all models of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, the iPad 2, the iPad and the iPod Touch. Gildea recommended that the ITC issue an import ban of the products if it finds Samsung’s patent rights were violated.

In addition to winning the preliminary round in Samsung’s complaint, Apple has been successful so far in its own ITC case against Samsung.

Trade Judge Thomas Pender said on Oct. 24 that Samsung infringed four Apple patents, including one for the design of the iPhone and one for touch-screen technology co-invented by Steve Jobs, Apple’s late co-founder. The commission is scheduled to announce the next steps in that case on Jan. 9.


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