In an unexpected turn of events, Apple has lost for the first time against Samsung Electronics in a U.S. patent case. The U.S. International Trade Commission gave the green light for the South Korean company’s request for an import ban on AT&T iPhone 4, 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G, as it found these devices to be violating a Samsung standard-essential patent.
According to the commission’s ruling obtained in full and shared by AllThingsD, Apple’s aforementioned iDevices violate Samsung patent No. 7,706,348 in two instances, which have to do with encoding and decoding a particular wireless protocol.
Although the ruling effects only AT&T iPhones and earlier-generation iPads, it is still a ban, and huge slap in the face for Apple. A company spokeswoman contacted AllThingsD with the following statement:
“We are disappointed that the Commission has overturned an earlier ruling and we plan to appeal,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet wrote. “Today’s decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States. Samsung is using a strategy which has been rejected by courts and regulators around the world. They’ve admitted that it’s against the interests of consumers in Europe and elsewhere, yet here in the United States Samsung continues to try to block the sale of Apple products by using patents they agreed to license to anyone for a reasonable fee.”
The ban can be overturned by the White House or the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. What is interesting, though, is that an initial review of the case by an ITC judge did not find any patent infringement.
Here is the ruling itself:
Samsung was highly satisfied with the ruling.
“We believe the ITC’s Final Determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations,” Samsung said in a statement to AllThingsD. “Our decades of research and development in mobile technologies will continue, and we will continue to offer innovative products to consumers in the United States.”