U.S. ITC rulings in complaints by Apple and Samsung against each other

On 4 June 2013 the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”) ordered an import ban against older iPhones and iPads into the U.S.

The ITC held that Apple had violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 with importing and selling wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices and tablet computers which infringe specific claims under the ’348 patent, a deemed standards-essential patent on UMTS wireless technology which was one of the patents on which Samsung brought a complaint.

In its decision the ITC rejected Apple’s FRAND defense. According to the ITC Apple was not able to prove that the patent was standards-essential and therefore could invoke the FRAND defense. Furthermore, even if Apple would have proved that there was a FRAND patent it still could not prove that the ITC could not issue an exclusion order for such a patent.

However, the exclusion order, i.e. the import ban, was vetoed on August 3, 2013 by the White House during the Presidential Review period of 60 days. The veto was based on reasons of public interest in competitive conditions that an exclusion order based on a standards-essential patent could give rise to.

Concerning Apple’s complaint against Samsung a final ruling was handed down on August 9, 2013.  The ITC concluded that Samsung infringed two Apple patents. These patents regarded “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics” and an “audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry”. The ITC ordered an import ban which will take effect if it is not vetoed by the White House within 60 days. [Nicole Daniel]