A handful of Samsung smartphones infringe an Apple patent on text selection, according to the initial determination of a U.S. International Trade Commission judge.
The patent in question concerns the selection of text on the browser of a handheld device by covering it with a translucent layer, where the layer becomes active for user inputs. Most smartphone users will be familiar with the method or something similar from when they press down on a word to copy or perhaps delete it.
[ Simon Phipps tells it like it is: Why software patents are evil. | Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. | Read Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog for what the key business trends mean to you. ]
In his initial decision, which was reached last week but only published late on Thursday, Judge Thomas Pender found several Samsung phones did infringe two parts of U.S. patent RE41,922, filed by Apple in 2002.
Judge Pender, however, determined the phones do not infringe an Apple patent covering detection circuitry for a jack socket that determines whether a microphone or headphones are connected.
The determination is part of an ongoing lawsuit between Apple and Samsung that Apple filed with the ITC in July 2011.
The ITC has the capability to issue import bans on products, so it is a popular destination for companies locked in patent disputes.
A final decision in the case is expected later this year.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org