The next week could prove a critical period for the patent battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple as three critical decisions loom. The International Trade Commission said Thursday that it will rule Aug. 9 on whether to block imports of some Samsung smartphones. On the same day, a federal appeals court will hear Apple's attempt to reserve a lower court judge's decision allowing Samsung to keep importing its phones despite a jury agreeing that the South Korean company violated Apple's patents. Meanwhile, the Obama administration must decide by Sunday whether to uphold an ITC ruling that blocks the import of some Apple 4S models.

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