Samsung wants to block importation of Apple devices

Several iPods

The iPod may become a rarity in the U.S. Image: strollers/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Court disputes over intellectual property continue between Korean-based Samsung and Apple, Inc. The disputes are surrounding patents for the iPod, iPad and iPhone devices. The suits could have a far-reaching affect on American consumers.

Samsung petitions ITC

Samsung, the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips, filed a suit yesterday in the High Court in London to block iPhones, iPads and iPods — manufactured in the U.K. — from being imported into the U.S. On June 28, the Korean firm also asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to block importation of the devices. Samsung asserts that the Apple products contain components which violate their patents.

Apple has a suit of their own

Two months ago Apple filed a suit of their own against Samsung in a California federal court. Apple claims that Samsung slavishly copied the look, feel and design of their iPhone, iPad and iPod devices. Apple further claimed harassment by the Korean firm, which is allegedly demanding to see prototypes of the new iPad 3 and iPhone 5.

An ironic dispute

This is the most recent round in an ongoing dispute between the two electronics giants. Samsung has previously sued Apple in Seoul, San Francisco, Tokyo  and Mannheim, Germany. The ongoing spat is ironic, since the companies rely so heavily upon one another. Samsung is Apple’s chief supplier of memory chips.

Both court battles could take several months to settle. Should Samsung succeed, the iPod could become a rare and much-sought-after collector’s item in the U.S.

Disputes are nothing new

Disputes of this kind are nothing new. In 2006, the American wireless firm Qualcomm petitioned the ITC to block the import of products from Finnish corporation Nokia over patent infringements. The ITC disapproved the request, but Nokia was concerned enough to pay Qualcomm a settlement in 2008 to avoid a lawsuit over the same issues.

Apple also asked the ITC to block the U.S. importation of Nokia phones last year. Yet just last month, Apple decided to pay Nokia around $1 billion for the rights to use its patents.

Importation has been blocked in the past

The ITC did agree to block the importation of a phone containing Qualcomm chips in 2007. California-based Broadcom petitioned the block, claiming patent violations. A federal court eventually overturned the decision. Verizon Wireless, whose phones use Qualcomm chips, feared the decision would greatly harm their business at the time.


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