Apple faces having some older models of its iPhone and iPad devices being banned from sale or import in the US, after it lost a bitter patent battle with arch rival Samsung.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled against Apple, reversing an earlier decision, in a dispute over 3G wireless technology.
Samsung made a statement saying, "We believe the ITC's final determination has confirmed Apple's history of free-riding on Samsung's technological innovations."
Apple said it was disappointed by the decision and planned to appeal. “Today's decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the US," an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.
The ruling slaps an import ban on models such as the iPhone 3GS, and the iPad 3G, which no longer sell in the US. However, it also affects the iPhone 4, which, while no longer a cash cow, is still available as an entry-level handset on some US networks.
The ban will come into force unless President Obama decides to intervene within the next 60 days.
The decision marks the latest twist in a long-running dispute between the two firms. Samsung originally made its complaint to the ITC three years ago. Meanwhile, the tech giants have engaged in a tit-for-tat patent complaint in courtrooms across the globe. Last year, Apple won a $1bn award from a US judge that ruled Samsung had infringed its intellectual property, although that award was subsequently lessened.
At the centre of the dispute is Apple's belief that Google built its Android operating system by piggybacking iOS innovations. But rather than target Google directly, Apple has gone after Android handset makers. While it has used its clout to win concessions from some, Samsung's considerable might – and success with its Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets – has seen it stand firm.
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