Apple did not violate patents owned by Samsung Electronics in making the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad, a judge at the International Trade Commission said in a preliminary ruling on Friday.
Apple and Samsung have taken their bruising patent disputes to some 10 countries as they vie for market share in the booming mobile industry. Apple won a landmark victory last month after a U.S. jury found the South Korean firm had copied key features of the iPhone and awarded Apple $1.05 billion (U.S.) in damages.
ITC Judge James Gildea said on Friday that Apple did not violate the four patents in the case. Samsung had accused Apple of infringement in a complaint filed in mid-2011. It asked for the infringing products to be banned from sale in the United States.
The full commission is due to decide whether to uphold or overturn its internal judge’s decision in January.
The patents in the complaint are related to 3G wireless technology, the format of data packets for high-speed transmission, and integrating functions like web surfing with mobile phone functions.
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 blatantly copying its hot-selling iPhones and iPads. The ITC judge’s preliminary decision is due in mid-October.
Samsung was the top-selling mobile-phone maker in the second quarter of 2012, with Apple in third place, according to data from Gartner Inc.
Samsung’s Galaxy touchscreen tablets are considered by many industry experts to be the main rival to the iPad, though they are currently a distant second to Apple’s devices.