Apple and Samsung have been battling each other in the courts on a worldwide level for the past two years over what they both claim are patent infringement on each other’s products. Last August, Apple won a huge victory in the U.S. to the tune of $1 billion in damages. You could almost hear Samsung shouting, fists raised in anger, “You haven’t heard the last of me, yet!”
Well, they hadn’t. Samsung just won a major case against Apple that could result in much more than a billion dollars. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recently ruled that Apple violated a Samsung patent relating to data transfer on wireless networks.
If the ruling isn’t blocked by appeal or vetoed by the President, it means that all of Apple’s older devices, including the iPhone 4 and third-generation iPad, will be barred from sales in the U.S.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the ITC is a go-to legal option for tech companies because the trade body can issue orders banning the importation of infringing products. The practice of going to the ITC to settle patent disputes has gotten so out of hand that the Obama Administration has begun taking steps to reduce the use of ITC in these matters.
“Legal observers say it is easier to win an import ban at the ITC than it is to win a federal court ruling that would block product sales.”
Although actual sales figures are not clear enough to make an official determination of the impact this ban would have on Apple, Gene Munster analyst Piper Jaffray estimates that the iPhone 4 alone brought in $3.4 billion in the previous fiscal quarter. Compare that with the paltry one million that Samsung was ordered to pay last year and you can see what a huge deal this is.
Apple will, of course, appeal the ruling. It is likely that the court will temporary delay the ban, allowing sales of the infringing devices until after the appeal.