TEXAS, June 5, 2013 — In what must be an embarrassment for Apple, a company that has been hailed as one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative, a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has banned the sale of several iPhone and iPad models for infringing a Samsung cellular data patent.
The ITC order blocks sales of several Apple devices that work on AT&T’s Wireless network, and includes the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 2 3G; which are relatively older models. Apple’s iPhone 5 and its fourth-generation iPad are not affected.
The ruling, which President Obama has 60 days to approve or veto, overturns an earlier decision by ITC Judge James Gildea, who said in September that Apple did not violate Samsung’s patent. It also indicates that Apple, which has filed several lawsuits against what it calls “copycats,” has itself copied Samsung, its primary competitor in the mobile-device marketplace.
“We believe the ITC’s final determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations,” Samsung spokesman Adam Yates said in a statement.
However, Apple plans to fight the ITC decision. “We are disappointed that the Commission has overturned an earlier ruling and we plan to appeal,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
The ITC ruling is only the latest in setbacks for Apple. Last year, Apple was awarded a billion dollars in a federal lawsuit that ruled Samsung had infringed several Apple patents. However, in March 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh lowered the damages awarded to Apple by almost half, and ordered a new trial to recalculate damages for 14 of the Samsung products involved in the case.
Although many pro-Apple commentators will undoubtedly try to make light of the ITC ruling, it might be that Apple’s strategy of litigation instead of innovation to overcome Samsung’s dominance of the mobile marketplace, is starting to damage its own image.
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