ITC Judge: Apple Did Not Violate Any Samsung Patents

ITC Apple Samsung Patent

An administrative law judge, E. James Gildea, ruled Friday that Apple did not violate four Samsung patents that are at issue in a Samsung-requested U.S. International Trade Commission complaint, FOSS Patents revealed. Samsung's complaint sought an import ban against Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod products for alleged violations of five of the Korean company’s patents.

In its initial complaint in June 2011, Samsung asserted that the following patents were violated by Apple:

  • No. 7,706,348: an “apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system”
  • No. 7,486,644: a “method and apparatus for transmitting and receiving data with high reliability in a mobile communication system supporting packet data transmission”
  • No. 6,771,980: a “method for dialing in a smart phone”
  • No. 6,879,843: a “device and method for storing and reproducing digital audio data in a mobile terminal”
  • No. 7,450,114: for “user interface systems and methods for manipulating and viewing digital documents”

In June 2012, Samsung withdrew its claim on Patent No. 6,879,843 and, of its remaining patents, Nos. 7,706,348 and 7,486,644 were deemed to be standards-essential.

On Friday, Judge Gildea ruled that there was no violation by Apple on any of the claims in the remaining patents.

The judge further concluded that there is no domestic industry for any of the four patents, something that is required for a valid ITC complaint. A domestic industry evaluation by the ITC comprises two “prongs:” economic and technical. A patentee seeking ITC protection must meet the economic prong by showing that it has significant investment in the United States via a manufacturing plant, ownership of equipment, workers, or capital investments related to the business. Domestic engineering, R&D, or licensing can also suffice.

Once that is established, the patentee must also satisfy the technical prong, which asks if the patented technology is actually being used by the products that the patentee makes or distributes in the United States.

The ITC’s domestic industry requirement is designed to ensure that import bans are only granted in situations where doing so will help protect domestic industry from unfair competition due to the importation of infringing goods. Samsung could not meet this requirement.

Judge Gildea’s decision will now be reviewed by ITC’s top-level Commission but, as FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller explains, Samsung will face two hurdles in reaching a favorable verdict: “a finding of no violation means that Apple prevailed on at least one of its affirmative defenses against liability (non-infringement, invalidity, patent exhaustion, or more than one defense at the same time), and Samsung would additionally have to get the denial of a domestic industry overturned.”

A final decision by the ITC Commission is due in four months. A separate ITC complaint brought by Apple against Samsung is due for a decision on October 19.