ITC judge recommends ban on Samsung products

However, Samsung might still be able to sell redesigned versions of products

A U.S. International Trade Comission judge is recommending sanctions against Samsung that include an import and sales ban on products found to infringe Apple patents, and the posting of a bond for 88 percent of the value of some of the devices involved in the case.

Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender's remedy in the Apple complaint against Samsung was made public in a redacted version of his opinion that entered the ITC's filing system Friday. Pender in October issued a preliminary finding that Samsung infringed four of Apple's patents, one related to product design and three related to technology.

The infringing devices, in Pender's October ruling, include models of Samsung's Transform, Acclaim, Indulge and Intercept smartphones.

On Friday, Pender issued his remedy for the infringement, including a U.S. import ban that would begin after the 60-day presidential review period that follows a final ITC decision. In addition, Pender recommended a cease-and-desist order that would ban the sale of any commercially significant quantities of the allegedly infringing products that have already been imported.

"I find that the evidence shows more likely than not that Samsung maintains a commercially significant inventory of imported infringing accused products in the United States," Pender said in his opinion.

The remedy also includes the requirement for Samsung to post a bond of 88 percent of the value of all infringing mobile phones, 32.5 percent of the value of all infringing media players, and 37.6 percent of the value of all infringing tablet devices during the presidential review period.

However, Samsung still might be able to sell at least some of the products involved in the complaint. Pender has approved several Samsung workarounds -- or "designarounds" -- and if those designs are "legally safe but also technically adequate and commercially viable, Samsung can keep importing and selling," according to patent expert Florian Mueller in his FOSS patents blog.

In addition, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is re-examining several Apple patents, and in a preliminary ruling has already rejected a touchscreen patent involved in the ITC complaint.

The judge's recommendations also must be approved by the six-member ITC Commission.

Neither Samsung nor Apple were immediately available for comment.

Apple filed the complaint against Samsung last summer, after Samsung had filed a similar patent complaint against Apple. The ITC inquiry is part of a broader patent battle. In perhaps the most significant case, a California jury this summer decided Samsung should pay Apple US$1.05 billion for infringing its patents. Samsung is appealing that decision.

Tags samsungAppleconsumer electronicsintellectual propertysmartphonesMedia players / recorderslegalCivil lawsuitspatent

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Marc Ferranti

IDG News Service

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