Final ban hammer could drop in August

Last year Apple, Inc. (AAPL) looked to leverage the U.S. International Trade Commission as a backdoor to banning shipments of rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) immediately while the federal courts system grappled with its corresponding infringement suit against Samsung. Apple emerged victorious in a jury verdict in that suit last fall, but has since seen the victory jeopardized by patent invalidations.

Judge Thomas Pender ruled last October that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets and Nexus smartphones/tablets infringed on four of six patents owned by Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  Samsung request a re-review of that decision.  The results of that review -- which covered two of Apple's patents -- was filed Mar. 26 by Judge Pender.  That ruling was unsealed [PDF] last Friday.

In his more in-depth second review Judge Pender decided that Samsung's devices did not infringed on an audio jack patent -- U.S. Patent No. 7,912,501 "Audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry", which he initially had ruled it had infringed.  However, he stuck his prior ruling that Samsung infringed on a process on text selection in a GUI -- U.S. Patent No. 5,949,432 "Method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display."

Nexus 7
Apple may be able to ban Samsung's Nexus and Galaxy Tab devices in August.

The next step is for the full six-member commission to either approve or reject Judge Pender's ruling.  That decision is expected to come in August.

If the ruling is upheld, Samsung could see a large chunk of its tablet and smartphone lineup banned.  Samsung and Apple are currently winding up towards a second infringement case.  The case comes at a critical time for Apple, whose iPhone 5 sales are reportedly slowing as Samsung's Galaxy S IV nears.  The GSIV launches April 26.

Source: ITC

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