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U.S. accused of Apple protectionism

U.S. trade agency says Samsung infringed on four Apple patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision Thursday that Samsung infringed on four of Apple’s patents has led to accusations of protectionism.

U.S. ITC Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice on the agency’s website that Samsung violated four patents, including a design patent and three other patents that include touch-screen technology.

“We will immediately request a re-examination of the preliminary decision and we’re confident that our claim will be accepted in the final determination,” said a Samsung spokesman.

The wireless gadgets involved include smartphones Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus and tablet Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Samsung has up to 12 days to have the case reviewed and the result will be announced before Dec. 24. The final ruling is currently slated to be made in February.

If the final ruling finds that Samsung violated Apple’s patents, the Korean company’s U.S. imports of the infringing gadgets will be banned.

“It just seems like it will be impossible for Samsung to win a case on Apple’s home turf. I would say they are way too protective of its top tech firm for sure,” said a local industry insider.

Samsung has been unable to gain any positive movement involving its patent suits with Apple in the U.S. in recent months.

Last month, the U.S. ITC said in another initial ruling that Apple’s gadgets ― such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod ― did not violate four of Samsung’s patents and did not infringe on Samsung’s intellectual property.

Samsung had filed a patent infringement case against Apple at the ITC in June, an action soon followed by Apple in July.

The Korean IT giant also lost a $1 billion jury verdict at a court in San Jose in August, being ordered to pay up for violating Apple’s design-related patents.

Although Samsung is the world’s No.1 smartphone maker, it has less presence in the U.S. Apple’s iPhone is the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., taking up 34 percent of the market, compared to Samsung’s 18 percent share, according to market research firm ComScore Inc.

While a jury and government agency in the U.S. have favored Apple, a number of courts in Japan and Europe ― in the Netherlands, the U.K. and Germany ― have taken sides with Samsung.

The latest ruling at a Dutch court said that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent for using multi-touch techniques on the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The U.K. court also ordered Apple to post notices on the company’s U.K. website and in some media outlets saying that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets had not copied the iPad’s designs.

Samsung also previously won rulings involving patent infringement claims in Tokyo and Mannheim earlier this year.

But U.S. trade law experts say a victory for Samsung on Apple’s home turf is impossible.

The two are currently engaged in more than 30 patent battles in nine different countries.

By Cho Ji-hyun (