Ruling in Samsung’s case against Apple postponed

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Ruling in Samsung’s case against Apple postponed

A final decision in Samsung Electronics’ patent-infringement case against Apple was delayed by U.S. trade officials until May 31 as they seek input on the effect of a possible import ban of the iPhone and iPad.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it wanted to know more about how a ban would affect the market for smartphones and tablet computers. The question pertains to one of the four patents that Samsung asserted against Apple, for a way that phones transmit data.

The notice could indicate the commission is considering a finding Apple violated that Samsung patent. The agency could be trying to fashion a compromise that would give Apple time to work around the patent, or to deny an import ban because of the impact on consumers, said Rodney Sweetland, a lawyer with Duane Morris in Washington who specializes in International Trade Commission-related cases.

“Were they not thinking about a violation, they would not need to ask for further information of this nature,” Sweetland said in a telephone interview. The commission asked for comments on what type of later-generation products are available that are authorized by Samsung to use the technology covered by the patent, and whether they are acceptable substitutes to the iPhone and iPad.

The ITC declined to issue an import ban on public policy grounds in 1984, when it decided that barring hospital beds designed for burn victims would harm patients who might not be able to get the equipment.

In a patent case won by Apple against HTC, the commission gave the Taiwanese handset maker time to design around the Apple invention.

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