Samsung Electronics Co lost the first round of a US trade case brought by Apple, its second big defeat this year in America as the companies battle worldwide over smartphone and tablet computer technology.
Samsung infringes four patents, including one for the front face of the iPhone and one for touch-screen technology co- invented by Steve Jobs, US International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice Wednesday on the agency’s website. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to halt products at the US border and is scheduled to finish its investigation by Feb 25.
The case is one of more than three dozen between the makers of about half of the world’s smartphones. Samsung, which lost a $1 billion jury verdict in August against Apple, is challenging a different ITC judge’s findings that its own patents weren’t infringed by Apple. The Korean company has had more success in other countries, including a victory yesterday in The Hague.
“People see what’s happening in the other countries, but here in the U.S., every time they go up against Apple, they lose,” said Will Stofega, a programme manager at Framingham, Massachusetts-based researcher IDC. “Samsung will continue to fight. In the long run, this cult of Apple may not be a good thing to have.”
The judge’s findings will become public after both sides get a chance to redact confidential information. If the commission agrees with Pender and orders a halt on imports, the action would be reviewed by the US president, who can overturn the ban on public-policy grounds. An appeals court would review the overall case.
“If left to stand, this initial determination could lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for the American consumer,” said Adam Yates, a US-based spokesman for Samsung. “We remain confident that the full commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position that patent law must not be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.”
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, had no immediate comment.
Apple’s iPhone is the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., with 34% of the American market in August, almost double Samsung’s 18%, according to market researcher ComScore Inc. (SCOR) Samsung is the world leader with more than a quarter of global mobile phones sales compared with Apple’s 17%.
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