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Trade panel delays decision on Apple, Samsung patent fight

Customers gather outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Customers gather outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Wednesday that it would delay a decision on allegations that Apple infringed upon patents owned by Samsung Electronics in making the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.

An administrative law judge at the ITC had said in a preliminary ruling in September that Apple did not infringe the patents. The full ITC said it would review the matter. If the full ITC reversed its internal judge and found Apple guilty of infringement, the ITC could order its products banned from the U.S. market.

The ITC said it would now issue a decision on May 31. It requested filings on questions related to the effect of banning the Apple products on the public interest and whether there were acceptable substitutes for the Apple products if they were to be banned.

Apple has a parallel complaint filed against Samsung at the ITC, accusing Samsung, a major Apple chip provider as well as a global rival, of copying its iPhones and iPads. An ITC judge said in that case that Samsung infringed on four Apple patents.

Apple and Samsung have taken their bruising patent disputes to some 10 countries and four continents as they vie for market share in the booming mobile industry.

Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker, while Apple is in second place, according to Gartner Inc, a technology research company.

The case at the International Trade Commission is No. 337-794.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; editing by Andrew Hay)

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