updated 07:00 pm EST, Thu November 29, 2012
One additional device found to be in violation; will be added to action
The US International Trade Commission staff has agreed with the preliminary ruling by Administrative Judge Thomas Pender that Samsung stands in violation of four Apple-held patents, and is not guilty of infringing two, as determined in October. Both Samsung and Apple asked for the review, expecting a more favorable ruling.
The ITC staff has supported the initial ruling, saying that Judge Pender "did not commit legal or factual error" and denied Samsung's petition in its entirety. Most of Apple's request was also denied, with the exception of the Samsung Transform suggested by the staff as having infringed an Apple patent where it was previously found non-infringing.
Apple was expecting to be handed a victory on review with a design patent on the iPhone 3GS, and a patent on "plug detection mechanisms." Samsung was hoping to have the victory set aside, using its standard defenses it is also attempting in the smartphone patent post-trial hearing. Patent analyst Florian Mueller believes that "Samsung's petition for review appears to re-raise pretty much every issue: claim construction, infringement, validity." The ITC staff has clearly disagreed with Samsung's assessment given the ruling. A full and final ITC decision is still coming, but the staff decision is likely to weigh heavily in any final ruling.
Apple filed the original complaint in June against six smartphones and two versions of the Galaxy Tab. Judge Pender issued the initial investigation a day early, after having shifting the due date to October 25, citing his own caseload on other matters, including two other cases involving Apple.
In regards to the initial ruling by Judge Pender, Samsung believes that "this initial determination could lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for the American consumer. We remain confident that the full commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position that patent law must not be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. We will continue to take all appropriate measures to ensure the availability of our innovative products for American consumers." Apple has made no statement on the initial finding.