While Samsung's pitching its latest product -- a high-tech watch -- the clock is ticking for a ban on some older devices in the US.
Come Tuesday, the presidential review period ends to overturn an August ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that found
That ban threatens just a "small" number of products, according to Samsung, but represents a notable win for Apple, which has engaged in aagainst the South Korean tech giant since early 2011.
There isn't a set list of banned products. Instead, the order affects gadgets defined as "electronic media devices."
In a plea to the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), which has between now and Tuesday to overturn the ban (and did so for a separate ITC case filed against Samsung by Apple earlier this year), Samsung argued (PDF) that the move sets a dangerous precedent.
"The USTR should look beyond their immediate impact and consider the broader, longer-term policy implications," Samsung said in an August filing. "Smartphones and other highly sophisticated electronic devices are increasingly targeted at the ITC by relatively insignificant patents that claim only a tiny fraction of the accused product's functionality."
In Samsung's case, the ITC found the company to be infringing on two of Apple's patents, one that covers touch-screen technology, as well as a patent dealing with headphone jacks. Since then, the company has offered up design-arounds, which have been approved by the ITC and kept those products safe from this ban. However, in its argument, Samsung says the resulting order could spill out to other devices that weren't a part of the original complaint:
There has been a growing and worrisome trend among complainants to broadly define the scope of the investigation, but attempt to prove a violation based on a narrow category of products. The end result of such strategy is a broad remedial order that potentially covers numerous products that were never adjudicated by the Commission, much less found to infringe.
The deadline comes as much of the US government is shut down. Certain parts, including US customs and the courts are deemed "essential," and continue to operate.
Getting ITC bans overturned by the USTR is a rarity. Prior to an 11th-hour veto by the Obama administration this past August, which overturned a June ruling against Apple and in Samsung's favor, there hadn't been a presidential intervention since 1987. That particular case also involved tech companies including Sharp, Toshiba, NEC, and Samsung, and was filed by Texas Instruments. Before that, sitting presidents only disapproved of the decision in four other cases.
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