courtroom gavel

In a decision issued on March 26, but kept classified until earlier this week, an International Trade Commission judge found Samsung to be infringing on Apple’s US RE41,922 patent that covers things like text selection and translucent buttons.

It’s only a preliminary decision, and the judge only found Samsung guilty of infringement on one of two patents listed in the complaint. But if the decision gets upheld, Samsung could once again be looking at a major product ban in the US…

Reuters reports:

“Samsung Electronics Co Ltd infringed a key portion of an Apple Inc patent by including a text-selection feature in its smartphones and tablets, an International Trade Commission judge said in a preliminary decision…

…If it is upheld, the ITC can order any infringing device to be barred from importation into the United States. Apple has alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy, Transform and Nexus devices, among others, were among those made with the infringing technology.”

The patent in question is labeled a “method or apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display,” and the features in Samsung’s products that seem to be infringing on it are text selection in its browser and the buttons in its Photo Gallery.

Apple filed the original complaint with the ITC in mid-2011, and initially it included 7 patents. Samsung was found guilty of infringing on four of them last October, and Judge Thomas Pender was asked to reexamine two of them, which brings us to today.

Although we’re still a ways off from a definitive outcome here—the full ITC commission isn’t expected to rule until August, and then there will almost certainly be appeals—the ramifications of it could be huge. Several Samsung products could face sales bans.

Of course, it seems like we’ve heard this story before, and nothing ever happens. In fact, look at Apple’s big $1 billion victory against Samsung last fall. That settlement has since been cut in half, and who knows when, or if, Samsung will have to pay it.

I get that you have to defend your intellectual property, but this just all seems like such a waste of time and resources.