Sale of certain Apple iPhone and iPad models have been banned in the US, after Samsung won a significant legal victory last night.
The ITC (or International Trade Commission) ruled that Apple's iPhones and iPads infringe on a Samsung patent related to 3G technology, and ordered Apple to halt imports of the devices into the US and stop selling imported stocks. Manufacture of the iPhone and iPad takes place entirely overseas, so that means of its stock. (On a related note, Apple has been making some noises in recent months about bringing some manufacture back into the US.)
This is a final judgement, but still awaits presidential review - President Obama has 60 days to veto, after which time the ban will take effect. Beyond that, Apple has said it will appeal.
The models affected are the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, and the 3G models of the iPad and iPad 2 - and only AT&T models at that. More recent models are not affected by the ban.
The ITC's investigation has been running since 2011. An ITC judge initially ruled that the four SEPs that Samsung complained about were not violated, but this decision has now been reviewed by a full ITC panel of five judges, who found in favour of Samsung on one count (although one judge dissented from this ruling). The panel upheld the ruling that the other three patents were no violated.
Last year Apple won a major patent victory over Samsung in the US, and was awarded just over a billion dollars in damages. This case, on the other hand, will not see large figures of that kind, since the infringed patent is a standard essential patent, or SEP. This means it is considered to be essential to all parties in the market, and the owner, Samsung, is required to license it out at what is considered to be a reasonable rate.