The U.S. International Trade Commission in an initial finding Friday said Apple’s iPhones, iPods and iPads don’t violate Samsung’s patents, handing the mega tech firm another victory in a contentious patent war between the world’s biggest handset makers.

The decision was preliminary and must be voted on by the whole commission. But it set Samsung back another step as the ITC both defended and fired its own shots at Apple.

ITC Judge James Gildea disagreed with Samsung’s allegations that Apple violated four of its patents being used in the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The ITC handles global patent disputes and has the ability to block imports of infringing products.

Apple and Samsung are fighting patent claims in several countries, including Japan, South Korea and the U.K. The companies each claim the other has stolen key features and designs patented for smartphones and tablets.

Apple won a major victory last month when a U.S. District Court jury in San Jose awarded the Cupertino, Calif., firm $1 billion in damages after it determined Samsung infringed on design and other patents. In that case, Apple was suing Samsung for patent infringement. The companies will go to court in December over Apple’s request to bar eight Samsung devices after the court’s ruling.

The two sides appear determined in their legal battles.

“We remain confident that the full Commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position that Apple must be held accountable for free-riding on our technological innovations,” Samsung said in a statement. “We are proud of our long history of innovation in the mobile industry and will continue to defend our intellectual property rights.”


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