After months of litigation with Samsung and the International Trade Commission as mediator, the regulator has found that Apple has violated one of Samsung’s key patents, forcing the ITC to issue an import and sales ban on the GSM iPhone 3GS, GSM iPhone 4, and 3G versions of the original iPad and iPad 2 owing to finding that Apple was in violation of one of Samsung’s patents related to 3G cellular network access.
The decision centers around Apple’s claim that Samsung failed to offer to license the patent in question under FRAND (“fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory”) terms while the case was being argued was rejected by the ITC in handing down the infringement judgment and subsequent order to ban the offending devices from import and sale in the US.
However, while the iPad 2 3G and iPhone 3G S are discontinued from official sales in the US and even considered obsolete by Apple’s own standards, the GSM iPhone 4 is still actively sold by carriers in the US and around the world as an entry-level iPhone offering by carriers such as AT&T while still receiving official support by Apple for the time being.
For Samsung to score a device ban against Apple at this stage after last year’s court case marks a victory for the current smartphone leader, as the company battles against Apple legally in an attempt to prove that it did not infringe on any of Apple’s patents and intellectual property.
However, the victory is not without its own set of consequences, as it opens up the possibility of more firms that hold similar 3G network access and telephony patents to sue under the same terms, potentially affecting every major and minor mobile device manufacturer around the world.
Apple is expected to appeal the decision and has stated that the decision will not immediately affect sales. Below, the complete decision as handed down by the International Trade Commission: