One day after the massive new introduction of the iPad mini, Apple has won a preliminary ruling against Samsung. An U.S.-based ITC judge said that Samsung has violated four Apple patents.
One of them, for touchscreen technology, was coinvented by Steve Jobs. Another, a design patent on the front face of the iPhone, lists Apple design chief Jony Ive among the inventors.
The ruling is only preliminary, and will receive a review from a larger group at the ITC, sometime before Feb. 25. If it’s upheld, however, Apple may succeed in blocking Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet and the Galaxy SII and Nexus smartphones, among other devices, but not including Samsung’s Galaxy S III.
Of course, that highlights one of the strategic problems of seeking market share solutions through patent and trademark litigation in the consumer electronics industry. By the time you succeed, the products are no longer relevant.
This case is just one of at least 19 ongoing disputes between Apple, Samsung, and other Android phone and tablet vendors. Samsung has won in Japan, the U.S., and today in the Netherlands.
But Apple is the company with the big billion-dollar win in August. At least, until Samsung appeals that ruling, as it will almost certainly appeal this new ITC ruling.
Interestingly, if the full commission upholds the preliminary ruling, President Barack Obama can uphold or overturn the ruling.
That, at least, would be interesting.