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ITC decides to review Apple complaint against Samsung

Apple initially won a ruling passed down by an administrative law judge, but now the ITC wants to make a final determination on the matter.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decided yesterday to review a ruling made by an administrative law judge in the ongoing patent-infringement saga between Apple and Samsung.

Judge Thomas Pender in October ruled that Samsung had violated one of Apple's iPhone design patents, as well as three software feature patents, in some of its mobile products. Two other patents brought before the judge by Apple were found to have not been violated by Samsung.

In a memo published yesterday (PDF), the ITC announced that it will review the ruling passed down by Judge Pender. The organization said that it received "petitions for review" from Apple and Samsung. In December, Google, which develops the Android operating system running on Samsung's devices, filed a submission "in response to the Notice of Request for Statements on the Public Interest." The ITC didn't say what was in Google's submission, but the company presumably shared its support for Samsung.

After it lost the initial ruling in October, Samsung decried the result, saying that it "could lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for American consumers." The company also said it was optimistic that the full ITC commission would review the decision and come down on its side.

"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," the company said at the time.

The ITC's decision is a microcosm of the ongoing patent struggle between Apple and Samsung. Time and again, one company has won a ruling, only to have it appealed by the loser. Subsequent hearings on the topic are then held. The result is no finality and more opportunity for Apple and Samsung to add alleged infringement to their suits.

The ITC had previously reserved March 27 for a hearing on its final initial determination on the case. With the review process now kicking off, that date will be pushed back.

CNET has contacted both Apple and Samsung for comment on the ITC's decision. We will update this story when we have more information.