ITC Delays Apple, Samsung Patent Ruling Again

The U.S. International Trade Commission has delayed its ruling yet again in a patent infringement complaint Apple has brought against Samsung. The ruling was originally scheduled for January 14, was pushed out to February 6, and now has been rescheduled for March 7.

ITC delays ruling in Samsung patent complaint againITC delays ruling in Samsung patent complaint again

The ITC didn't give a reason for the latest delay, although the earlier rescheduling was related to Samsung's decision to include standards essential patents in its complaint.

"A previous extension of the target date was ordered about three weeks ago, pushing it back from January 14 to February 6 and mentioning 'numerous submissions' concerning the FRAND issues raised by the standard-essential ones among Samsung's patents-in-suit," Florian Mueller of Foss Patents said. "The Thursday notice now postpones the target date to March 7, 2013, i.e., by four weeks plus one day, and does not state or hint at any particular reason."

Assuming the ITC doesn't push its schedule out again, the agency will announce its decision on whether or not Judge James Gildea's preliminary ruling stands. Judge Gildea ruled last September that Apple isn't infringing on the patents listed in Samsung's complaint, and while it seems likely the commission will back up his ruling, there is a chance it could shoot down at least part of it.

The commission is also likely considering other cases around the world invilving Samsung's patents. Mr. Mueller stated,

I believe what mostly complicates this case for the ITC is an interesting combination of antitrust actions in the Unitd States and the European Union. On the one hand, there's the FTC-Google settlement, which occurred shortly after the ITC's previous extension of the target date. It's not binding precedent, but it does bear some weight as the ITC is generally required under the law to take its sister agency's input into consideration.

Apple and Samsung have been fighting in courts in several countries over claims they are using each other's mobile device patents without proper licensing. The highest profile ruling in their ongoing battle came last summer when a U.S. Federal Jury found Samsung to be willfully infringing on several of Apple's patents while also finding that Apple wasn't infringing on Samsung's. The Jury also awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages.

Samsung dropped its SEP patents from complaints against Apple in Europe, but hasn't done so in the United States. The ITC could be waiting to see if Samsung does the same here, which would bring an end to this particular complaint without requiring a final ruling. So far, however, Samsung hasn't made any indications that it will.