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‘Protectionism’ concerns rise after patent disputes between Samsung, Apple

Publication Date : 17-09-2012


Protectionism is rising as a hot topic following the US International Trade Commission’s initial ruling last week that Apple did not violate four of Samsung Electronics’ patents.

Edward Gildea, administrative law judge at the ITC, said in a notice posted on its website that the Cupertino-based Apple’s gadgets - such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod - did not infringe on Samsung’s intellectual properties earlier on Saturday, local time.

The event takes place a month after the Suwon-based firm lost a jury verdict to Apple in San Jose, being ordered to pay more than US$1 billion for infringing on the US-based tech giant’s design-related patents.

Involving the ITC, Samsung filed a trade complaint in June 2011, stating that Apple infringed two of its patents that cover data transmission technology.

Samsung also said its rival violated two more patents which detect phone numbers in an email or Web page and another in which the document display page moves with the user’s finger.

“We’re confident that the ITC will acknowledge our claim in the final decision-making process, which will be attended by six ITC commissioners, that Apple has been free-riding on our technological innovations,” Samsung said in a statement.

The ITC is scheduled to give a final ruling on the case filed by Samsung against Apple in January next year. The commission has the power the block imports of products that violate US patents.

Although Samsung expressed its confidence over winning the final ITC ruling, industry insiders say the possibility remains low with a US expert even saying that “Apple at the ITC is bulletproof.”

“Nobody can get any traction against (Apple) there,” Rodney Sweetland, a lawyer at Duane Morris in Washington, who specialises in trade cases, told Bloomberg. “The lesson is, if you want to get relief against Apple, it’s going to have to be in a foreign forum where it doesn’t have the clout or the cachet it has at the ITC or the northern district of California.”

Another industry source said that the ITC complaint filed by Apple against Samsung, which is slated to be announced later on October 19, is also most likely to lean towards the victory of Apple.

“Apple has also won previous cases brought to the ITC against other electronics makers like HTC, which proves that Apple has an upper hand in its home turf,” the source said.

If Samsung is deemed to have violated Apple’s patents, the Korean company’s gadget imports into the US could even be banned, resulting in huge losses because the North American market is the biggest one globally.

In the meantime, Judge Lucy Koh is scheduled to hold a motion hearing for the Samsung and Apple patent infringement case at the San Jose court on Friday.


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