The International Trade Commission issued a ruling today banning certain Samsung devices for infringing upon Apple's patent portfolio. The import ban is subject to a 60-day veto period, where President Obama could elect to veto the decision. The patents in question cover scrolling behavior on smart devices and headphone jacks. The devices that are known to violate these patents include the Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab, and Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as a handful of other smartphones and tablets released in 2010 and 2011.
Though the ITC ruled in favor of Apple on these two patents, it disagreed with Judge Pender's earlier decision that Samsung violated four other patents of Apple's. The President recently vetoed a similar import ban on Apple products requested by Samsung, but in that case those devices were found to be in violation of standards essential patents. In this recent decision, the patents are considered non-essential, which means that it is unlikely that this will be vetoed. The ITC is planning to release more details concerning its decision today at a later time.
A veto by the president is unlikely for this decision
Apple could also win a ban on more recent Samsung products if investigators find that Samsung's workarounds for these patents are not good enough to not be considered in violation. A similar thing happened last year, when the HTC EVO 4G LTE was banned from import for some time because of older patent violations. Today's ITC decision is separate from the federal case that Apple and Samsung are currently embroiled in.
While Apple and Samsung's battles over design patents have garnered much of the attention so far, today's ruling found two patents related to the iPhone's original design not to be infringed, and instead focused on hardware and software features. Apple may have grabbed headlines by calling out Samsung for copying the look and packaging of the iPhone, but it's the actual workings and experience of using the device that are winning the war for Apple.
Samsung provided The Verge with the following statement on today's decision:
We are disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple’s patents. However, Apple has been stopped from trying to use its overbroad design patents to achieve a monopoly on rectangles and rounded corners. The proper focus for the smartphone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace. Samsung will continue to launch many innovative products and we have already taken measures to ensure that all of our products will continue to be available in the United States.
Apple's statement can be read below:
With today's decision, the ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung's blatant copying of Apple's products. Protecting real innovation is what the patent system should be about.