Apple has been dealt a major blow in its ongoing patent battle with arch rival Samsung after a federal panel in the US ruled that some of the Californian giant's products violated the South Korean firm's patents and ordered an import ban on a series of Apple gadgets.
The decision by the US International Trade Commission in Washington applies to a number of older Apple devices customised to work on the AT&T mobile network, including the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS and 3G, the original iPad and the iPad 2. The machines, which are put together in China, do not form part of Apple's most up to date line-up, although some of the devices were last night available for sale on the company's US online store. The latest iPhone and iPad are not covered by the ruling.
The orders imposing the import ban will now go to the desk of President Obama, who has 60 days to review them. They will take effect if he decides against vetoing them. However, Apple also has the option of going to court to seek a stay on the order and appeal the trade panel's ruling.
The ruling, which was handed down late on Tuesday, reverses an earlier verdict in favour of Apple last year, when a trade panel judge sided with the company.
Apple said it was “disappointed that the commission has overturned an earlier ruling and we plan to appeal.” “Today's decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States,” the company added.
Samsung was not immediately available for comment.
The case is part of an international legal battle between Apple and Samsung as the technology companies seek to assert ownership of what they claim is their rightful intellectual property covering a range of smartphone and tablet devices.