Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pinder, acting for the U.S. International Trade Commission, has sided with Apple in its patent complaint against Samsung, saying that The Korean company is violating one of Apple’s iPhone design patents, as well as three software feature patents.
The ruling, which could lead to sales bans of those products in the U.S., is preliminary and needs to be approved by the ITC’s full six-member commission.
Samsung released a statement about the decision, saying it would lead to higher priced goods, and that it is “confident” about the ITC’s final decision. Samsung’s statement went on to say that if left to stand, the determination could lead to “fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices for the American consumer.”
Apple declined to comment on the decision.
Apple’s complaint was filed in July of this year, accusing Samsung of infringement on five utility patents and two design patents on six smartphones, and two Galaxy Tab variants. Apple later withdrew a patent from the complaint, as well as particular claims on two others. The list of devices in the complaint mainly covers older phones and tablets. Newer ones, like the Galaxy S III and the Note are covered in a separate complaint.
The initial decision on the matter was originally scheduled for last week, but was delayed until this week. The target date for a final determination by the Commission is February 19, 2013.
Recent years have seen technology companies turn to the ITC to settle disputes. An ITC case can be filed the same time as a civil lawsuit, and the threat of possible embargoes can force companies to settle more quickly.
Apple and Samsung have been waging a worldwide legal battle, including the trial in the United States that recently wrapped up with the jury finding in favor of Apple, however the appeals process in that case is expected to continue into the near future.