Last Friday, Samsung was dealt a huge blow as the ITC ruled that some of the company’s mobile products infringe on two of Apple’s patents. As a result of the ruling, those products will be banned from US import next month unless President Obama steps in.
Following the decision, Samsung released a statement saying that the order wouldn’t affect product availability in the United States, indicating that it had developed a workaround. But the fact that it posted bond with the ITC today tells a much different story…
FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller explains:
“The ITC investigation had been going on for more than two years. The designarounds were presented a long time ago. If Samsung can work around those two Apple patents without any negative effects on its competitiveness, how come it has, according to Apple, continued importing infringing devices throughout the entire duration of the investigation? And how come it has just posted surety bonds with the ITC to ensure its continued right to import and/or sell such infringing devices during the 60-day Presidential review period?”
So yes, Samsung has workarounds for Apple’s patents, and they’ve been cleared by both Judge Pender and the Commission—the trade agency’s highest-level decision-making body. But it obviously feels that they will degrade the performance of its mobile devices.
Here’s the big Apple patent in question:
- U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics” (which Apple wanted to call “the Jobs patent” in a trial in Judge Posner’s court that never took place); this patent is under reexamination pressure
The potential upshot here is that, absent a veto from President Obama—which isn’t thought to be likely because these are non standards-essential patents—Samsung’s products will either be subject to the import ban, or significantly altered as part of the workarounds.
Mueller is also adamant about the fact that the import ban doesn’t just apply to older Samsung devices. It applies to all infringing devices, and that could include the Galaxy S4, the Note 2, and future products. So yeah, the potential ramifications here are quite significant.
The ban goes into effect October 9. Stay tuned.