The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday ordered a ban on the import and sale of some Samsung Electronics Co. mobile devices after finding they infringed on two Apple Inc. patents.
The ruling could put pressure on the Obama administration, which only a few days earlier took the unusual step of vetoing an ITC ruling in favor of Samsung that would have barred the sale of some older Apple iPhones and iPads.
The administration will now have 60 days to decide whether to let the Samsung ban take effect. The impression of favoring domestic over foreign companies could raise trade tensions with Samsung’s home country of South Korea.
Samsung, while expressing disappointment with the ruling, said the order won’t hurt the availability of its products—an apparent reference to design changes made to remove infringing features from its smartphones and tablets.
“We have already taken measures to ensure that all of our products will continue to be available in the United States,” a Samsung spokesman said.
Specific Samsung products affected by the ITC order weren’t spelled out, though an earlier ruling by an agency judge pointed to older products that include the Galaxy S II smartphone and Galaxy 10.1 tablet. The order potentially could have an impact beyond older Samsung devices that Apple challenged at the time.
Friday’s ruling is another setback to Samsung in its global patent battles with Apple. Earlier Friday, Samsung appeared to have a difficult time during an appeals court hearing in another patent fight between the two companies.
Legal experts say the Apple and Samsung cases are based on different kinds of patents that would justify different conclusions by the administration.
The ITC found that Samsung infringed on parts of one Apple patent that covers elements of swiping a finger across the display of a device, a key feature of nearly all smartphones and tablets. It also cited parts of another patent related to headphone jacks.
The ITC decision isn’t a complete victory for Apple. The trade body rejected some claims made by Apple and absolved Samsung from infringing on patents associated with the most basic design of the iPhone.