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Friday, September 14, 2012, 12:41 pm PT (03:41 pm ET)

US ITC judge rules Apple does not violate Samsung patents

A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled on Friday in favor of Apple, finding that the iPhone maker did not infringe on patents owned by rival Samsung.

Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch product lines were cleared of accusations of infringement from Samsung, according to Reuters. Specifically, ITC Judge James Gildea's preliminary ruling found that Apple did not violate four patents owned by Samsung.

The complaint was first filed by Samsung in mid-2011. That filing, like most patent infringement suits, sought to bar the sale of Apple products in the U.S.

Gildea's ruling is only preliminary, however, and the full commission must still make a final determination on the case. The ITC will decide whether to overturn Gildea's ruling at a hearing in January.

The ITC decision is yet another victory for Apple, which won a crucial battle last month when a California jury found that Samsung has infringed upon Apple's patented inventions. The jury had recommended that Apple be awarded $1.05 billion in damages from the South Korean electronics maker.

Though already numerous, the lawsuits between Samsung and Apple may continue to grow. Earlier this week, before the iPhone 5 was even unveiled, The Korea Times issued a report citing "ranking officials" at Samsung who allegedly indicated their company was preparing to sue Apple for infringing upon its 4G LTE patents.