US trade judge backs Apple in patent lawsuit

Posted on Monday, Oct 29 2012 on 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON — A trade judge in the United States said Samsung had infringed four technology patents belonging to iPhone manufacturer Apple. The decision is still to be reviewed and confirmed by the commission of the US International Trade Commission (ITC), but the statement late Wednesday by the commission's Judge Thomas Pender indicates strongly that the final ruling will be in Apple's favour. The two electronics giants, which together make around half of the world's smartphones, are locked in mutual lawsuits in several countries. The South Korean company says Apple stole data management and mobile communication technology, while the iPhone maker says Samsung copied elements of its device's appearance and user interface. The judge said Samsung had infringed Apple's design for the front face of the iPhone and its touch-screen technology. The ITC, which is to finish its investigation by February 25, has the authority to block imports. But "an import ban would not mean (Samsung) products disappear from the US market," because the South Korean company already has alternative technology solutions, German intellectual patent expert Florian Mueller said. Earlier Wednesday, a Dutch court ruled that the touch-screens of Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets were satisfactorily different to those of Apple products. The decision was in line with similar rulings in Britain and Germany. Apple last Tuesday unveiled a range of new products including a smaller version of the iPad tablet computer. Meanwhile, Apple lost a British court appeal on Thursday against a ruling that Samsung's Galaxy tablet is not "cool" enough to be confused with the iPad. The US tech giant had challenged a High Court judgment in July that South Korea's Samsung did not infringe Apple's registered design and that consumers were not likely to confuse the rival devices. A panel of three British judges at the Court of Appeal in London dismissed Apple's bid to overturn the decision. “Because this case (and parallel cases in other countries) has generated much publicity, it will avoid confusion to say what this case is about and not about,” senior judge Robin Jacob said in the ruling.