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Sales of iPhone 4 could be blocked in US as Samsung wins Apple patent dispute

 
 
 
 
 
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Samsung has won in another round of its long running patent battle with Apple. It could see a ban on sales of the iPhone4 and iPad tablets in the US. However, Apple says the victory won’t affect its business, as those restricted aren’t core products.

The US key trade regulator – the International Trade Commission (ITC) – agreed Apple violated a patent of South Korean rival Samsung. The ITC decided that usage of 3G mobile data links by Apple in its iPhone 4 and 3-G capable iPad 2 infringed Samsung patent rights. The body rejected Apple’s claim that the South Korean company had failed to license the patent on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms, as is required for standards-essential patents (SEPs).

“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 the AllThingsD website. “Our decades of research and development in mobile technologies will continue, and we will continue to offer innovative products to consumers in the US.”

The iPhone 5 and 4S, as well as iPads released in 2012, are unaffected by the decision.

The Apple devices involved into the case are assembled in China. In case the ITC decision isn’t renounced by US President Obama within 60 days, Apple won’t be able to import the products into the US.

The US tech corporation said it was ‘disappointed’ by the ITC decision and was going to appeal it in federal court. It is the only alternative available to escape the import ban other than appealing directly to President Obama.

The ITC decision was announced on the same day President Obama said he planned to overhaul some US patent litigation systems. The key aim of the President’s initiative is to target ‘patent trolls’. It’s “specifically designed to deal with abusive patent legislation” rather than sweeping patent reform, and is, “not designed in any way to pursue legit patent rights holders,” as a senior Obama administration official told Engadget.

Whatever the final outcome, Apple says its business won’t be hurt too much, as most of the models under investigation are more than a year old. This means they are no longer being sold in the US. Among the Apple devices still traded on the US market is iPhone 4, with its sales also set to be folded up during 2013. There is speculation the US tech giant plans to release another iPhone generation, with the new gadget set to be presented this autumn.

Sales of iPhone 4 created about $3.4 billion in revenues in the last quarter, while sales of iPhone 5 that remained untouched by the verdict brought the US company $14.9 billion, The Wall Street Journal said.

The two tech giants have been long been arguing over their share of the highly competitive smartphone market, with the lawsuits underway in 10 countries. In August 2012 Apple managed to win a $1 billion case in another patent battle with Samsung.

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