US bans older Samsung devices in Apple patent case

Some older Samsung devices have been banned from sale in the US, because they infringe Apple's patents.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

And you thought all this patent nonsense was over. Or I did, anyway, what with Apple winning $1bn from Samsung, and just last week, the President himself stepping in and putting a ban on the bans. Now the International Trade Commission has issued a ruling that bans certain Samsung devices from sale in the US. The reason? They infringe on Apple's patents, of course.

The devices include the Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as some others released in 2010 and 2011. Which is a geological age in gadget terms.

The patents Samsung has infringed concern how the scrolling works on a phone or tablet, as well as the design of the headphone port.

But hang on, you're probably saying, I thought Barack Obama himself vetoed these kinds of bans just last week. Well, he did and he didn't. The ban President Obama banned (say that three times fast) concerned standards-essential patents -- which are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for the good of the industry -- while these patents are considered non-essential. Which makes it highly unlikely POTUS will step in and stop it.

Not only that, more Samsung devices could be yanked from shop shelves if the company's workarounds for these patents aren't considered to be up to scratch.

It's not all doom and gloom for Samsung though. Two patents related to the iPhone's original design were found not to be infringed.

Understandably, Samsung wasn't best pleased with the ruling. It said in a statement to The Verge: "We are disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple's patents. However, Apple has been stopped from trying to use its overbroad design patents to achieve a monopoly on rectangles and rounded corners.

"The proper focus for the smart phone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace. Samsung will continue to launch many innovative products and we have already taken measures to ensure that all of our products will continue to be available in the United States."

Apple was chuffed. It said in a statement: "With today's decision, the ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung's blatant copying of Apple's products. Protecting real innovation is what the patent system should be about."

Is it fair to ban any products? Let me know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page.