U.S. trade officials have ruled that South Korea's Samsung infringed on patents owned by Apple for specific smartphone features, ratcheting up a tit-for-tat legal battle between the two electronics giants that is matched only by the ferocity of their marketplace competition.
Bloomberg says the patent dispute is over multitouch features and phone jack detection, and that the U.S. International Trade Commission has ordered Samsung to quit importing, selling and distributing devices in the U.S.
"The ruling doesn't make clear how many of Samsung's phones would be affected by the import ban, which is subject to review by the [Obama] administration. Samsung can import all of its phones during that period."
The ITC decision follows another last weekend in which U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman overturned a ban on the import of the iPhone 4 and the iPad2 after an earlier ITC ruling that those Apple products had violated patents held by Samsung.
It all comes as competition in the smartphone market has heated up and Apple, with the iPhone, has seen its once-dominant position eroded by Samsung's Galaxy.