UNITED STATES—The Obama administration has overturned a federal commission's ban on sales of older Apple products, in a surprising veto amidst a worldwide patent confrontation between Apple and Samsung that began in 2011.
An iPhone beside an iPad.
In a letter dated on August 3,
U.S. trade representative Michael Froman informed the U.S. International Trade Commission of his decision to differ in evaluation with the latter's ruling. On June 4, the ITC determined that Apple infringed a patent owned by Samsung. Consequently, the trade body issued a ban on all imports and sales of certain Apple products that included older AT&T based models of the iPhone and older models of the iPad. The ban was to take effect on August 5.
The patent in question is related to data transmission over wireless networks. Disputes between Apple and Samsung arose when the
US tech company accused Samsung of not abiding to fair pricing with its patent. Samsung retaliated by charging Apple with not wanting to license its patent.
Froman's decision is based off of evaluations on policies “as they relate to the effect on competitive conditions in the
U.S. economy and the effect on
U.S. consumers.” However, he states in the letter that his decision does not mean that Samsung cannot continue to seek redress through the courts. The USTR's decision is the first such move since 1987.
The South Korean government weighed in on the issue on Monday, August 5, labeling the veto as a sign of “protectionism” in the ongoing dispute between the two companies. In a statement, the South Korean trade ministry stated, "Our ministry expresses concern about negative impacts the decision by the USTR will have on protecting patents held by Samsung.”
In a different case on August 2012, Samsung was ordered by the U.S. Federal court to pay Apple more than $1 billion for patent infringement. Further decisions by the court reduced the amount to $598.9 million.