South Korea May Ban Apple’s iPhones And iPads

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Apple’s iPhones and iPads face possible ban in South Korea. Reports have emerged that the South Korean government will likely ban the imports of Apple devices, which include the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPad Pro.

The Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy is reportedly reviewing allegations that the Cupertino-based company infringed on a FinFET-related patent that belongs to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the country’s top research-oriented science and engineering institution.

According to Business Korea, the investigation period has already been extended twice and the Korean government will likely rule in favor of KAIST. The decision could mean that a number of Apple devices may be banned in the country.

“We are currently looking into whether Apple infringed on the patent of KIP, a subsidiary company of the KAIST,” the Korea Trade Commission said. “The targets include iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, iPhone X, iPad 9.7, and 9.7-, 10.5-, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro imported from China and Hong Kong.”

The issue is whether or not KAIST’s FinFET patent is valid. KAIST claims that it has patented FinFET, a processor technology that Apple used in its A-series processors. FinFet is a type of transistor that reduces power consumption and boosts performance for increasingly smaller chips.

South Korea To Ban Apple Devices
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BGR noted that the technology is also used by most other mobile processors. If the patent is upheld to be valid, the implications will affect more than just Apple.

Samsung Electronic is already engaged in litigation against KAIST in the United States. In June, the company was ordered to pay $400 million after a federal jury in Texas found that it infringed on a U.S. patent related to FinFet.

Samsung, the world’s largest chipmaker, said that it worked with KAIST to develop the technology and denied infringing the patent. It also challenged the patent’s validity.

“The FinFet technology we are using is our own technology developed by our employees and executives through studies. This is different from the FinFet technology on which KIP US claims to have patent rights,” Samsung said in a statement.

The company already submitted evidence to a court to invalidate the patent. It has also filed a similar lawsuit in July with South Korea’s Intellectual Property Trial and Approval Board.

The news about the potential ban on Apple devices came just a day before Apple’s annual September event. New iPhones and Apple Watches are expected to debut during the highly anticipated “Gather Around” launch event on Wednesday.