ITC delays a decision on Samsung’s U.S. imports

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ITC delays a decision on Samsung’s U.S. imports

A U.S. trade agency on Thursday delayed a scheduled announcement of whether to ban imports of some Samsung Electronics smartphones to Aug. 9, saying it needed more time.

The International Trade Committee made a preliminary ruling in October that Samsung deliberately infringed three patented designs and one technology from the iPhone after a complaint from Apple. The violations include one patent for the front of the iPhone and another for touch-screen technology coinvented by Steve Jobs.

If the final ruling, originally to be made on Thursday, finds the Korean tech giant copied at least one of the four, relevant products - the Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 - will be blocked from entry into the U.S. Some of those products are no longer being sold.

In a separate development, Apple is facing a decision from President Barack Obama Saturday U.S. time whether to endorse the ITC’s June ruling to curb the import of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G, iPad 2 3G, which are all assembled in China.

No U.S. president has overturned an ITC import ban since Ronald Reagan did in 1987 in a case involving Samsung. Apple is counting on Obama’s increased interest in patent disputes to win another exception.

The trade agency ruled in June that Apple violated a patent belonging to Samsung on those rather outdated iPhone models and two iPads, all released before the iPhone 4S. The ban is set to start next week. The latest iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad will not be affected.

The two rival companies have held talks over the past year - often mandated by courts or a trade agency - with no sign of an agreement. Samsung’s position as a top supplier of components for the iPhone hasn’t precipitated a detente. Patent lawyers who’ve been following the case say it will take a significant hit against one or the other company to trigger a settlement.

“It’s going to take one thing to get traction and then suddenly people get reasonable,” said Rodney Sweetland, a patent lawyer with Duane Morris in Washington. “Then you can figure out who writes the check and for how much.”


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