Apple and Samsung Drop Appeals in ITC Fight: Truce or Just Reloading?


In what could be the first sign of a larger ceasefire in their long-running patent war, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) have agreed to end one of their many patent disputes. According to FOSS Patents, the two rival tech companies have both filed motions to drop all cross-appeals related to last year’s U.S. International Trade Commission ruling that determined Samsung was infringing on two of Apple’s patents covering a touchscreen interface feature and a headset plug detection technology.

While the original ruling levied an import ban against Samsung’s products that used the infringing technologies, the ban actually had no real impact on the company since Samsung had already developed technical workarounds. Despite the ban having no actual economic impact, Samsung was appealing the import ban, while Apple was trying to broaden the scope of the ban and get Samsung’s workarounds disapproved. However, both companies have now abandoned this largely symbolic and fruitless fight. In a motion filed on June 12, Samsung noted that it “has conferred with Appellee International Trade Commission and Intervenor Apple Inc., and neither party objects to the requested voluntary dismissal.”

Apple filed its own motion to dismiss its appeal on June 13 that noted, “Counsel for Samsung and counsel for the United States International Trade Commission have informed counsel for Apple that they do not oppose this motion.”  While the import ban against Samsung’s infringing products still technically remains in effect, the Korea-based company no longer makes products that use the infringing technologies.

Both Apple and Samsung have long used the ITC as another venue for waging their patent-infringement battles, alongside their lawsuits in U.S. federal courts and various other court systems around the world. Last year, Samsung won its own ITC import ban against Apple over the iPhone maker’s infringement of a standard-essential patent (SEP). However, the Obama administration vetoed the ruling over concerns that Samsung was abusing the patent system by using its SEPs to engage in “patent hold-up.”