Samsung has filed a lawsuit with the country’s International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the illegal import of third-party OLED displays. In fact, we are talking about non-original displays used by third-party repair shops. This can literally bury the idea of independent repair of smartphones and other devices, and not only Samsung.
In particular, Samsung says that the company produces AMOLED displays for mobile devices, and such panels are protected by a large number of patents. Chinese and any other factories making their own counterparts are breaking patent laws, and their cheap alternative to Samsung displays should be banned from importation into the United States. The company is seeking orders from ITC to ban the import, sale and use of such products in the country. In other words, instead of suing the offending manufacturers in their own territory, where patent rights are often overlooked by the authorities, the company chose to strike at the bottom of the chain.
On January 4th, ITC announced that it had opened an investigation under Section 337 of the Tariff Act 1930 which not only protects patent rights but also prevents “misappropriation of trade secrets”. As a result, the import and use of non-genuine displays specified by Samsung may be banned entirely in the United States.
It is noteworthy that many companies from the United States resort to the help of ITC. Since the Commission is not a judicial authority, it has great powers and acts much more quickly than traditional courts. If Samsung’s requirements are met, this will have a major impact on medium and small workshops and end users, who in many cases already prefer to buy new devices over repairs due to the high repair costs.
Moreover, this practice of buyers is encouraged by the sellers themselves. For example, Samsung’s American website, which is dedicated to repairing defective displays, offers an upgrade as the first option for “repairing” the display replacement for a new one Device. While Samsung told ITC it has the capacity to meet demand for branded components, many workshops complain that sourcing genuine components is often very time-consuming and expensive.
The choice of Samsung could have far-reaching consequences for the repair industry across the country. The fact is that Samsung’s proprietary technologies are also used in displays for other smartphones, including 70% of displays for the iPhone, as well as in other electronics. If ITC goes with the South Korean tech giant, the Right to Repair movement could soon find itself in serious trouble. ITC itself told reporters that it would not comment on progress in pending cases.