A U.S. trade commission is expected to rule in favor of Apple Inc.'s patent infringement claims against Samsung Electronics Co. this week, granting another home-turf victory to the iPhone maker and raising concern over an import ban on Samsung's smartphones and tablets, industry watchers said Friday.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is scheduled to give its final ruling on Apple's patent infringement claims against Samsung Friday (U.S. time).
Last year, ITC made a preliminary ruling that some of Samsung's mobile devices infringed four Apple patents.
The upcoming ruling comes a week after U.S. President Barack Obama issued a veto on a patent ruling by the ITC that bans the import of some older models of the iPhone and iPad, dealing a blow to Samsung in its ongoing patent dispute with Apple, the world's second-largest smartphone vendor.
On June 4 of this year, ITC ruled that Apple infringed upon one of Samsung's standard-essential patents, putting a ban on older Apple devices such as the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G.
This decision was the first time that the U.S. government has vetoed a ruling by the ITC in 25 years. The ITC is an independent federal agency, working with the Department of Commerce, that determines the impact of imports on U.S. industries and directs actions against unfair trade practices, such as subsidies, dumping, and infringements of patent, trademark and copyright.
If the ITC finds that there is a violation by Samsung, it could order a ban on imports of some of Samsung's devices, which would then be reviewed by the Obama administration.
Some market watchers raised the possibility, however, that amid growing criticism over the Obama administration's bias toward the American firm, the ITC may once again delay its final ruling on the case.
Most analysts agree that an import ban on Samsung's gadgets would not seriously hurt its revenues as U.S. sales of its older models under the ITC's review are minimal, according to an analyst asking not to be named. "That means the impact of the ruling would be small," he said.
The analyst forecasts that the Obama administration would also overrule the case if it finds Samsung at fault. Otherwise, it will bring about an even larger international trade conflict, he said.
But some analysts say the Obama government may accept the ITC's ruling, because the case centers on some of Apple's commercial patents, not standard-essential patents.
Apple and Samsung Electronics together manufacture almost half of all smartphones sold, with the South Korean tech being the world's biggest and the two vying to expand presences in the U.S., China and other regions. (Yonhap News)