Apple iPhone 4 in U.S. import ban as Samsung wins patent ruling

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A U.S. trade agency has issued an import ban on the Apple iPhone 4 and some iPad models after finding the devices violate a patent held by rival Samsung Electronics.

The quasi-judicial International Trade Commission said it issued a “limited exclusion order” for certain devices made by Apple, marking a victory for South Korea’s Samsung.

The U.S. ruling could be largely symbolic, because the ban covers older devices such as the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T, the biggest seller of Apple devices in the United States when Samsung filed its complaint in 2011. The products are assembled in Asia.

President Barack Obama has 60 days to invalidate the order by the International Trade Commission. Apple also can appeal.

“We believe the ITC’s final determination has confirmed Apple's history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations,” a Samsung statement said.

“Our decades of research and development in mobile technologies will continue, and we will continue to offer innovative products to consumers in the United States.”

Apple did not immediately respond to an AFP query.

Samsung and Apple are engaged in a global legal battle over their smartphones, with Apple arguing that Samsung and its Android phones copy vital features of the iPhone. Samsung is fighting back with its own claims.

The iPhone 4 was launched in 2010 and is the oldest iPhone still being made.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Apple expects to expand its Silicon Valley workforce by nearly 50 percent.

The projections detailed in a report released Tuesday envision Apple hiring 7,400 more workers at its Cupertino, California, headquarters between now and the planned completion of a new office complex in 2016. Apple Inc. now employs about 16,000 people in and around Cupertino.

According to its recruitment website, Apple is advertising for more than 600 positions in the U.S.

The firm earlier this year launched a separate recruitment drive for staff its office in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It is currently advertising 34 jobs in the Middle East, in the UAE and Israel, according to its recruitment site.

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