Samsung sought ITC ban would be limited to older iPhones and iPads, company admits

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In a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission, Samsung confirmed that its declared standard essential wireless patents only apply to older iOS devices due to hardware changes in more recent versions, meaning that a proposed ban on the products would be somewhat limited if enforced.

As noted by FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, Samsung is seeking a U.S. sales ban on AT&T versions of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G, as well as the iPad and iPad 2. While the new filing looks to extend the older model coverage to "other carriers," it admits that newer iPhones and iPads running a certain Qualcomm baseband chip would be excluded from the ban.

The Korean company is asserting infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,706,348 regarding UMTS technologies, which are present in certain cellular-enabled iPhones and iPads using an Infineon-made communications chip. Newer cellular-connected iOS devices leverage Qualcomm silicon to which Samsung's assertions do not apply.

From Samsung's filing:

Based on Samsung's understanding, the current configurations of the iPhone 4 (CDMA version), iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 (CDMA version), iPad (third and fourth generations) and iPad mini contain [REDACTED]. Accordingly, unless these devices are altered to incorporate [REDACTED], they would not be subject to an exclusion order or cease and desist order. Similarly, future devices incorporating [REDACTED] would not be subject to an exclusion order or cease and desist order.

With Apple not even offering the iPhone 3GS, 3G and first-generation iPad, that leaves only the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 as being possible liabilities if the ITC were to agree to Samsung's request. Further, given the current iOS device cycle, which discontinues first-party iPhone sales for versions over two years old, a sales ban may not even affect Apple's handset lineup.

Mueller believes the ITC is unlikely to issue a sales ban, but points out that if such action was taken, only low-end Apple devices and the company's after-sales service business would be affected. He also said that the normal delay period before an import ban takes effect would go further in lessening the blow to Apple's bottom line.

After announcing a delay to its final ruling, the ITC is now scheduled to hand down a decision on May 31.


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