Apple wins key patent case against rival Samsung in US

Samsung S4 Active Apple and Samsung are engaged in several legal battles over patented technology

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Apple has won a key patent case against rival Samsung at the US International Trade Commission (US ITC).

The US ITC upheld a 2011 decision which found that Samsung had infringed Apple patents in the production of mobile phones, media players and tablets.

The US ITC has ordered that Samsung devices affected by the ruling are banned from the US.

But that ban is on hold while US President Barack Obama reviews the decision.

The President has 60 days to assess the US ITC's findings, although analysts say he is unlikely to overturn the commission's decision.

"We are disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple's patents," Samsung said in a statement.

Start Quote

The noose is tightening. Apple step by step actually is gaining leverage against Samsung”

End Quote Florian Mueller Foss Patents

"The proper focus for the smartphone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace."

Apple hailed the decision, placing it in the context of the tech giants' global patent battles.

"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," said the company.

Two patents

The ruling applies to two patents.

The first is the so-called "Steve Jobs patent", named after the company's founder, which involves touch-screen technology.

The other patent is related to the audio socket on devices.

"It's another significant victory for Apple," intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller told the BBC, "especially because the famous Steve Jobs patent is a pretty foundational patent."

Four other patent infringements asserted by Apple were turned down by the US ITC.

Ongoing battles

Apple and Samsung have been fighting patent battles for years and across 10 countries.

The fight has escalated after Samsung overtook Apple last year to become the global leader in smartphone sales.

Apple logo Battles between Apple and Samsung have escalated as Samsung has eaten into Apple's market share

In Washington on Friday, a federal appeals judge heard testimony in a separate patent case between the two companies relating to a decision last year, in which Samsung was found to owe Apple $1bn (£645m) for infringing on patents.

That penalty was later struck to $450m, but Apple appealed against the ruling. A verdict in that case has not yet been issued.

Separately, last weekend President Obama issued the first presidential veto in 26 years relating to a US ITC decision.

That veto overturned a ban on older models of Apple's iPhones and iPads because of its "effect on competitive conditions in the US economy".

Friday's ruling is widely seen as a victory for the company.

"In a way. the noose is tightening. Apple step by step actually is gaining leverage against Samsung," says Mr Mueller.

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