United States International Trade Commission Stories March 31, 2015

ITC agrees to Ericsson’s request to investigate Apple for alleged patent infringement, but iPhone ban unlikely

Ericsson’s attempt to have the iPhone banned from US sale over a patent dispute moved one step forward yesterday as the ITC agreed to investigate. Ericsson claims that iPhones infringe a number of its patents for fundamental cellphone technologies, including both GSM and LTE. Apple denies any infringement, and says that Ericsson is in any case demanding unreasonable amounts.

In an attempt to up the ante, Ericsson called on the U.S. International Trade Commission to block imports of the iPhone into the country, and the ITC has now agreed to carry out an investigation, reports PC World.

The ITC did previously apply a limited ban to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 3G iPads over a patent claim by Samsung (later overturned by President Obama), but in this case it seems likely that Ericsson is merely hoping that the possibility will force a faster settlement than would be reached through the courts.

United States International Trade Commission Stories December 18, 2012

Apple successfully defends itself against Motorola in latest patent case

Apple successfully defended itself against a Motorola lawsuit over an accidental hang-up sensor on its iPhone line. Bloomberg reported this evening that U.S. International Trade Commission judge Thomas Pender ruled in Apple’s favor, as he has before, declaring Motorola’s patent invalid. The ITC’s commission still has the power to review the ruling, but that hasn’t stopped Motorola from releasing an official statement on the matter.

Jennifer Erickson, a Motorola Mobility spokesperson, told Bloomberg in a statement: “We’re disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options.” Motorola is a part of Mountain View-based Google, which was acquired last August for $12.5 billion in a patent defense move.

Motorola’s collective lawsuit was filed in August with a claim that Apple violated seven patents with its iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iOS products, and even Macs. The suit was filed during the same time Apple worked to defeat Samsung in a historic patent case that played out during the better part of August. Samsung was ultimately ruled to pay damages of more than $1 billion.

United States International Trade Commission Stories November 21, 2012

Samsung says ‘iPhone would be impossible without its patents’, following ITC’s decision to reevaluate Apple patent case

We reported earlier this week that the ITC would reevaluate its Sept.14 ruling that Apple did not infringe four Samsung patents, with a final decision—that could potentially block imports of the device to the U.S—expected by January of next year. Today, head of Samsung’s mobile and IT division Shin Jong-kyun had some words about the case, following the ITC’s decision to reevaluate the initial ruling. Korea Times quoted Shin as claiming it would be “impossible” for Apple to make handsets without “Samsung-owned wireless patents” and that a new trial or the case is a possibility. Here’s the full quote:

The truth never lies. Without Samsung-owned wireless patents, it’s impossible for the Cupertino-based Apple to produce its handsets,’’ said Samsung’s mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun in a brief meeting with local reporters on his way to the company’s main office in downtown Seoul, Wednesday. “As you know, Samsung is very strong in terms of portfolios of wireless patents,’’ the executive added.

`”The re-evaluation decision by the USITC doesn’t necessarily mean Samsung is better-positioned for the fight with Apple. But Samsung will do its best,’’ Shin told reporters.

“Samsung’s legal team is effectively responding to this fight. Yes, a new trial for the case is a possibility,’’ the executive stressed. Shin’s remarks were confirmed by its spokesman Park Han-yong.

Shin is the same Samsung executive who made comments earlier this month regarding the recent Apple and HTC settlement, claiming Samsung had no intentions of negotiating or entering a similar agreement with Apple. Today’s report noted that Shin once again confirmed Samsung is not currently in negotiations with Apple related to “a possible peace treaty.”

United States International Trade Commission Stories November 19, 2012

ITC to reevaluate its September ruling that stated iOS devices don’t infringe on Samsung patents

According to Bloomberg, the International Trade Commission will reevaluate its Sept. 14 ruling that Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple did not infringe on any Samsung patents with its iOS devices. As many of you may remember, Samsung unsuccessfully tried to earn damages and block Apple’s iOS devices…for a second time. The first time was a separate case with the California court where Apple not only came out not guilty but also was victorious in its damage claims. Apple won upwards of $1 billion in damages from the South Korean electronics firm.

Jon Erlichman said the reevaluation ordered today would give Samsung another chance to try to sway the ITC in its direction in the hopes of winning. The ITC has the power to block imports of products that infringe on patents. It’s not clear why the ITC is reevaluating, but Reuters said a ruling is expected in January.

Upon its win this summer, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook expressed his gratitude to the jury. “We applaud them for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right,” Cook said. “Today, values have won and I hope the whole world listens.”

United States International Trade Commission Stories September 18, 2012

ITC launches investigation of Apple devices following Motorola complaint

The United States International Trade Commission announced today (via TNW) that it would launch an investigation of Apple devices, including iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs, following a complaint filed by Motorola last month that sought an import ban related to seven patents. The release from the ITC does not provide many details and only stated it will investigate “certain wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, computers, and components thereof” from Apple.

United States International Trade Commission Stories September 14, 2012

Report: Apple wins USITC patent ruling against Samsung

Apple just won another ruling brought by Samsung, according to a U.S. International Trade Commission notice, in regards to patented technology found in iOS devices.

Bloomberg reported:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) won a round of a U.S. International Trade Commission case brought by Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) over patented technology in the iPhone and iPad tablet computer, its second U.S. legal victory in a month over its largest smartphone competitor.

Apple didn’t violate Samsung’s patent rights, ITC Judge James Gildea said in a notice posted on the agency’s website. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

…Gildea said there was no infringement of any of the four patents in the ITC case, and also determined that Samsung had not proven it had a domestic industry that used the patents, a requirement that is unique to the trade agency. The judge didn’t provide the reasons behind his findings. The opinion will be public after both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.

U.S. International Trade Commission: Notice (PDF)

Get more details at Bloomberg.

United States International Trade Commission Stories September 10, 2012

‘That’s what the blogs are saying’

Funny exchange we missed over the weekend from the Apple vs. HTC courtroom:

When Pender asked whether Apple would be announcing its newest iPhone next week, Apple lawyer Michael McKeon of Fish & Richardson in Washington said he wasn’t told of the company’s plans. “It will be thinner and the screen bigger?” the judge asked. McKeon would only say, “That’s what the blogs are saying.”

Indeed.

United States International Trade Commission Stories July 10, 2012

Congress considers forbidding sales bans related to essential patents

Reuters reported today that Congress is set to discuss whether companies that hold patents considered essential to an industry standard, “such as a digital movie format,” should be allowed to request bans on infringing devices. A hearing will take place this Wednesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Federal Trade Commission officials are expected to testify:

“If they (smartphone makers) had taken the conservatively $15 to $20 billion dollars they’ve spent on this fight, imagine how much better a place the world would be,” said Lemley.

United States International Trade Commission Stories January 23, 2012

Newsweek‘s Dan Lyons reported today that Apple’s “thermonuclear war” on Android smartphone manufacturers is fading fast, while a new rumor surfaced among the suits’ lawyers claiming the company spent $100 million on its initial set of claims against HTC.

Imagine how much Apple spent on other Android makers, such as Motorola (who is near locking Apple products out of Germany in retaliation) or Samsung (the biggest Mobile Communications patent holder in the world), if it spent so much on just HTC.

“Who knows if it’s true, but if so, Apple didn’t get a lot for its money,” wrote Lyons on his RealDanLyons’ blog Jan. 23.

Apple’s legal claims are abruptly junked left and right, and its only minor victories to date are so inconsequential that Android device makers can dance around the momentary obstacles with just a few minor tweaks to products, explained the Newsweek reporter.

The technology giant’s case against HTC with the International Trade Commission began in February 2010, when the Cupertino, Calif.-based company wanted the ITC to block HTC from importing products into the United States. The case originally had 84 claims based on 10 patents, but it was dwindled down to only four claims by the time a judge became involved, according to Lyons.

The rulings —for the most part— were a wash for Apple. One patent was invalid as Apple did not have a rightful claim to it, and HTC did not infringe upon two of the other patents due to Apple apparently not implementing them into its products. In other words, Apple did not have a right to seek an injunction, because ITC injunctions can only occur if it is provable that both parties are “practicing” the patent in question, which Apple could not demonstrate against HTC…

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United States International Trade Commission Stories December 19, 2011

UPDATE [Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 7:46am ET]: The article has been updated with a paragraph added to the bottom with a statement from HTC CEO Peter Chou saying his company is “testing” new devices meant to avoid the sales ban.

The International Trade Commission just ruled in favor of Apple in the Apple vs. HTC patent lawsuit regarding mobile devices [PDF document]. HTC was found guilty of violating Apple patent 5946647 that is described by Google Patent Search:

A system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data. The system provides an analyzer server, an application program interface, a user interface and an action processor. The analyzer server receives from an application running concurrently data having recognizable structures, uses a pattern analysis unit, such as a parser or fast string search function, to detect structures in the data, and links relevant actions to the detected structures. The application program interface communicates with the application running concurrently, and transmits relevant information to the user interface. Thus, the user interface can present and enable selection of the detected structures, and upon selection of a detected structure, present the linked candidate actions. Upon selection of an action, the action processor performs the action on the detected structure.

HTC has violated products. The ruling involved the phone’s software, and it is subject to an import ban on April 19, 2012. The ITC said HTC could continue to ship replacement devices for currently shipped products. Obviously, a ban on certain HTC products is a major blow to the company, and because this is software-based, other Android device manufactures should not be too pleased. You can read the ITC’s full ruling through the The Verge.

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United States International Trade Commission Stories November 23, 2011

Taiwanese handset maker HTC’s lawsuit against Apple over infringement of S3 Graphics’ patents has suffered a fatal blow (in addition to this one) as the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), which can block the import of products, reversed its earlier decision and ruled in favor of Apple on November 21. The Commission has officially ended its investigation of the case and HTC shares fell 4.9 percent on the news.

And now, Bloomberg reports that HTC “will reevaluate” its planned purchase of S3 Graphics following the ITC ruling.

HTC Corp. will reevaluate its planned purchase of S3 Graphics Co. after the target company lost a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling it brought against Apple Inc. over patent infringement, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today.

Just yesterday, HTC’s general counsel Grace Lei told DigiTimes yesterday his company “will consider an appeal”. But after closer inspection of the ITC ruling, the company clearly concluded the best course of action is to consider dropping the $300 million acquisition of graphics maker S3 Graphics announced back in June, which only proves this acquisition may have been planned as a leverage in HTC’s other legal dealings with the iPhone maker.

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United States International Trade Commission Stories September 2, 2011

Didn’t know this:

But another peculiarity of the ITC is that its rulings can be waived by the president. Verizon thinks it would be great if President Obama, in a blanket statement, made clear he would not let stand any decision blocking importation of consumer wireless devices. The parties then would have to recur to normal patent litigation, and whatever rights and wrongs are discovered could be settled by exchanges of cash. Mobile is a rare industry exhibiting growth, job creation and animal spirits. Who needs a paralyzing meltdown?

It will be interesting to see if the President will override if Apple wins any of the blockades it is seeking against Android devices in the ITC.  IF he does, Apple/Google/Microsoft/whoever will have to go through the longer patent dispute process.

Both iPhones and Android devices could be blocked by pending ITC rulings.

Some background: expand full story

United States International Trade Commission Stories July 18, 2011

Shares of the Taiwanese Android phone maker HTC fell 6.5 percent this morning following the ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the company violated two patents held by Apple. The company’s shares had been pretty much in a free-fall throughout last week as well. The agency’s commissioners still have to support the ruling, but investors are already panicking over fears that the ruling will favor Apple. This, in turn, would open doors to ITC’s ban on imports of HTC’s phones into the United States. In response to the crisis, HTC announced a share buy back program worth up to $760 million in an attempt to stabilize its share price and restore investor confidence, reports Financial Times:

The attempt to prop up HTC’s share price appeared to have little effect as the stock fell below HTC’s minimum purchase price of T$900 to close down 3.9 per cent at T$871. The sell-off highlights investor fears that the legal battle could have wider implications for the competitive balance between Apple and Google Android-based phonemakers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola.

HTC is thought to have recently acquired S3 Graphics for $300 million in a bid to secure a stronger ground in its legal dealings with Apple, which filed its patent infringement complaint against the Taiwanese company back in March 2010. That’s not all HTC’s been doing lately in order to buy its way out of this mess…

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United States International Trade Commission Stories July 16, 2011

Yesterday’s victory in the ITC courts may have seemed like good news for Apple in giving it the upper hand against its Android carrying foe.  But, even if the ITC courts hold up the ruling on Apple’s two broad ranging patents from the mid-90s,

..it likely won’t be able to stop HTC from selling its popular Android line in the US.  HTC has a recently acquired ‘Ace in the Hole’… expand full story

United States International Trade Commission Stories July 15, 2011

CNET reports that the International Trade Commission has officially ruled that phone maker HTC has violated two of Apple’s patents related to iPhone technologies. This blow to HTC opens the door to a potential ban on imports of HTC products into the United States. Apple initially filed 10 patent violations against HTC, but increased that amount by five earlier this week. HTC obviously does not agree with the ITC ruling and provided the following statement:

HTC will vigorously fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision,” said Grace Lei, general counsel for HTC. “This is only one step of many in these legal proceedings.

As we know, Apple and Samsung (and Motorola too) are currently in a similar situation with Apple claiming multiple patent violations against the company. The twist in the Apple and Samsung case is that Samsung is counter-suing by claiming that Apple is violating Samsung’s patents.

There are only a few possibile endings if Apple wins HTC case. Either the two companies settle (with Apple taking home some more of HTC’s money – Microsoft already takes $5/phone and Oracle is looking for some more) or HTC stops selling Android devices. In all likelihood, if the ITC does not agree with HTC’s appeal, the two technology heavy weights will work out some settlement.  Cha Ching!

More on the patents below:

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