Apple has been found to be in violation of a Samsung patent, which has resulted in a limited import ban on certain products, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, original iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G, all only for AT&T-specific models. More details are emerging about the ruling, but it’s likely this affects only older devices on AT&T because it relates to a specific component used before wider release of the iPhone with multi-band support.
The import ban could theoretically result in Apple being unable to sell the devices in question in the U.S., should all appeals fail and the decision be upheld, since Apple wouldn’t be able to bring the devices into the country from its overseas suppliers and manufacturing facilities. As this is an ITC ruling, it would have to be appealed to the White House or Federal Circuit to be overturned, notes Nilay Patel of The Verge on Twitter.
@panzer Not a preliminary ruling, like other ITC rulings. This is final, appealable only to WH (won't touch it) and Fed Circuit.—
nilay patel (@reckless) June 04, 2013
Even if it does result in an effective ban, these devices are likely nearing the end of their sales cycle, with updates looming in the fall or perhaps as soon as next week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Still, it would be a considerable blow given that there are still a number of months between now and then, depending on when it takes effect. In the interim, small carriers and education still rely heavily on older models.
Apple announced today that it was, of course, disappointed with the outcome and will appeal today’s ruling telling AllThingsD, “Today’s decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States. Samsung is using a strategy which has been rejected by courts and regulators around the world. They’ve admitted that it’s against the interests of consumers in Europe and elsewhere, yet here in the United States Samsung continues to try to block the sale of Apple products by using patents they agreed to license to anyone for a reasonable fee.”
The full decision is embedded below, and the patent at issue in this particular decision is described in detail here. It’s related to cellular transmission of signals, to dramatically simplify things.