A judge for the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] on Wednesday declared in a preliminary ruling [text, PDF] that Samsung [corporate website] violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 [text; ITC backgrounder] when it infringed four intellectual property patents held by Apple [corporate website]. The patents at issue involve both hardware and software features, and include one relating to the face of the Apple iPhone and one relating to its touch-screen technology. Samsung has repeatedly contended that a sales ban on its products would limit choice and raise consumer prices in America, but to no avail. The ruling by administrative law judge Thomas Pender now awaits approval from a full commission, which is scheduled to conclude its investigation of the patent infringements in February.
Apple and Samsung have been embroiled in continuous patent litigation in courts around the world, with multiple rulings in the last month alone. Some commentators have noted that this legal strategy has been an effort to influence the marketplace from the courtroom [JURIST op-ed]. Earlier this week the Dutch Rechtbank's-Gravenhage [official website, in Dutch] court ruled that Samsung did not infringe [JURIST report] on an Apple software patent for user input and date manipulation through a "multi-touch" touch screen. Similarly, only a week ago, a UK court also ruled that Samsung did not infringe [JURIST report] on an Apple design patent. Ten days ago, Apple appealed a Tokyo District Court ruling [JURIST report] which dismissed the company's claim that Samsung had infringed on its patents. At the beginning of the month, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website] reversed an injunction [JURIST report] against Samsung that prevented it from selling its Galaxy Nexus product. Likewise and only a week prior, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] lifted an injunction [JURIST report] against Samsung which banned the sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 product.