The U.S. International Trade Commission will review a judge's decision which found that Apple did not violate patents owned by Samsung Electronics in making the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.
ITC administrative law judge has announced, in a preliminary ruling in September, that Apple was innocent in the violating of patents. The ITC have said it will take up the matter, despite the option to uphold the judges’ ruling. A final decision is expected in January.
If Apple found guilty of infringement then its devices may be banned for US sale.
The Apple and Samsung dispute has taken their on-going patent disputes to a total of 10 countries in their effort to vie for market share in the thriving mobile industry.
Apple won their case in August when a U.S. jury found the South Korean firm had copied key features of the Apple iPhone, which saw the company awarded damages of $1.05 billion. The ruling is now under appeal.
Announcing its appeal of the case, the ITC have asked for briefings on how it may consider standard essential patents. These are usually expected to be licensed widely on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The use of standards helps companies ensure devices are interoperable.
Owning standard essential patents is said to be ground for not ask for infringing devices to be barred from the country, save in extreme cases, say some antitrust enforcers.
The commission is reviewing a decision by ITC Judge James Gildea, who ruled in September that Apple had not violated the four patents at issue in the case originally filed in mid-2011.
The two standard essential patents in the complaint are related to 3G wireless technology and the format of data packets for high-speed transmission.
Apple has a parallel complaint filed against Samsung at the ITC, accusing Samsung, Apple’s major chip provider and global rival, of out rightly copying its iPhones and iPads. An ITC judge ruled in that case that Samsung had infringed on four Apple patents. The full ITC will issue a final decision in February.
Apple has waged an international patent war since 2010 as it seeks to limit growth of Google's Android system. The fight has embroiled Samsung, HTC and others who use Android.
Google's Android software, which Apple's late founder Steve Jobs denounced as a "stolen product," has become the world's best-selling smartphone operating system.
Currently Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker with Apple is in third place. Industry experts see Samsung's Galaxy touchscreen tablets as the main rival to the iPad, although they are currently a distant second to Apple's devices.
Samsung is also a parts supplier to Apple, producing micro-processors, flat screens and memory chips. The company supplies both DRAM (dynamic random access memory) and NAND memory chips for the popular iPhone, iPad and iPod. Apple has reduced orders from Samsung for chips and screens.