Apple wins patent ruling against Samsung at U.S. trade agency

Apple Inc. won a round of a U.S. International Trade Commission case brought by Samsung Electronics Co. over patented technology in the iPhone and iPad tablet computer, its second U.S. legal victory in a month over its largest smartphone competitor.

Apple didn’t violate Samsung’s patent rights, ITC Judge James Gildea said in a notice posted on the agency’s website. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

The judge’s findings follow a federal jury’s ruling in San Jose, California, on Aug. 24 awarding Apple more than $1 billion in damages, after finding that Samsung copies the look and some features of the iPhone. The California jury rejected claims that Apple infringed other Samsung patents.

Gildea said there was no infringement of any of the four patents in the ITC case, and also determined that Samsung had not proven it had a domestic industry that used the patents, a requirement that is unique to the trade agency. The judge didn’t provide the reasons behind his findings. The opinion will be public after both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has its own ITC complaint pending against Samsung, and the judge in that case is scheduled to release his findings Oct. 19. The two companies, which together make about half the smartphones sold in the world, are embroiled in more than 30 lawsuits spanning four continents.

Patent Battles

Each company is citing patented inventions to claim its products are better, while labeling its competitor as a copycat. They want to grab a greater share of a market that Bloomberg Industries said grew 62 percent to $219 billion last year. Samsung is the world’s largest maker of smartphones, while Apple dominates in the U.S.

The iPhone generated $16.2 billion in sales for the quarter ended June 30, about 46 percent of Apple’s total revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple introduced a newer version of the iPhone on Sept. 12 that has a bigger screen, faster chip and access to speedier wireless networks.

The phone is assembled in China by Foxconn Technology Co. The iPad garnered $9.2 billion and the iPod brought in $1 billion.

Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung filed the trade complaint in June 2011, claiming Apple devices -- including the iPhone, iPad tablet computer and iPod touch media player -- have infringed as many as four patents.

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