In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Apple experienced their first loss against Samsung in a patent case, a decision that may result in a ban on imports of some older mobile devices, including the iPhone 4.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) announced yesterday that Apple infringed on one of Samsung’s patents and that a ban will be placed on all Apple devices that make use of the patent. Unfortunately for Apple, the products in question are manufactured in Asia and would therefore fall under the import ban.
The patent relates to 3G wireless technology that was used in the iPhone 3, 3GS, and 4 as well as the cellularly connected first-, second-, and third-generation iPads. If the ban goes through, AT&T and T-Mobile customers looking to purchase a cheap new iPhone will be out of luck.
The ruling could be reversed by a presidential order within 60 days on public policy grounds. Though Obama is unlikely to overturn the ruling, Apple is free to continue selling the models in question through the end of the review period.
Forbes claims that the ban on Apple imports could cost the Cupertino-based company $1 billion in revenue. In this case, however, Apple may replace the iPhone 4 with a low-priced model to avoid revenue loss.
While bad news for Apple, the ruling is a silver lining for Samsung. According to Bloomberg News, the ITC ruling may ease Samsung’s “copycat” reputation. “It seems inevitable that the latest ruling will have a negative impact on Apple. Combined with rising branding power in the U.S., the ITC ruling may give Samsung a chance to narrow its market-share gap with Apple in the U.S,” Bloomberg quoted Park Hyun, a Seoul-based analyst with TongYang Securities Inc.
What do you think? Will the recent ITC ruling drastically hurt Apple’s profits while building Samsung a better rep?