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ITC to give its pro-Apple decision a second look for Samsung

The U.S. International Trade Commission says it's giving Samsung's patent complaint a review following a pro-Apple decision in September.

Apple vs. Samsung

Samsung's getting a second chance against Apple in at least one legal venue.

The U.S. International Trade Commission today said it will review a decision made by one of its administrative law judges, who in September sided with Apple in a patent infringement complaint filed against it by the South Korean technology giant last year.

In a filing (PDF) this afternoon (via Bloomberg), the ITC said it plans to review that September ruling "in its entirety."

To be sure, the change is not a reversal but procedural in nature. Following any initial determination, rulings need to be approved by the ITC's full six-member commission. Nonetheless, the review could result in changes that go in Samsung's favor.

Samsung originally filed this complaint against Apple in August 2011, accusing the iPhone and iPad maker of infringing five of its patents. The case was then carved down to four patents, after Samsung removed a 2005 patent for MP3 music track technology. The remaining four, which the ITC says Apple did not infringe, include:

7,706,348 -- A patent for CDMA wireless technology
7,486,644 -- A patent covering packet transmission on wireless devices
6,771,980 -- A patent covering dialing on smartphones
7,450,114 -- A patent for digital documents

This ITC case is part of a much wider spat between Apple and Samsung, which are involved in legal confrontations around the globe. Perhaps the largest has been the U.S. trial between the two in a San Jose, Calif., federal court, which wrapped up in August. That decision favored Apple, but has yet to be entirely laid to rest. The two companies are due back in a California court early next month to hash out permanent injunctions and Samsung's efforts for a re-trial.

Technology companies in recent years have increasingly turned to the ITC to settle their disputes. Companies can pursue an ITC case in parallel with civil lawsuits, and the threat of an embargo on products typically forces companies to settle more quickly.