White House Overturns iPad, iPhone Ban
August 5, 2013

ITC Ban On iPads, iPhones Overturned By Obama Administration

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A ban on the sale of older-model Apple products issued last month by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has been overturned by the Obama administration.

The ITC order would have prohibited the sale of iPad 2 3Gs and iPhone 4s which operate on AT&T, T-Mobile, and regional carriers in Alaska and Texas. The commission's verdict was handed down on June 4 and would have gone into effect this week, according to Brian X. Chen of the New York Times.

However, US trade representative and presidential adviser on international trade issues Michael Froman sent the commission a letter on Saturday notifying them he would be enacting President Obama's authority to veto the ban on the Apple products.

In its initial ruling, the ITC determined the Cupertino, California-based iPad and iPhone manufacturer had violated a patent, held by Apple's rival Samsung, related to the transmission of data over cellular networks, Chen explained. The Obama administration had until Monday to weigh in, and their decision to overturn the import ban marks the first time it had been used to veto a commission ruling since 1987, he added.

"My decision does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy," Froman wrote to ITC chairman Irving Williamson, according to Jon Swartz of USA Today. "On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights in the courts," he explained, adding the veto was based on technical policy consideration and their potential impact of "competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers."

"We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told Bloomberg's Susan Decker, adding Samsung was "wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."

Conversely, Samsung spokesman Adam Yates said the South Korean firm was "disappointed" with the veto. He told reporters the original ITC ruling "correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating a license in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license."

The two technology giants have waged an international legal battle against one another for nearly three years, with this specific ITC case beginning in 2011. In June, the ITC ruled in favor of Samsung, ordering Apple to stop importing versions of the Chinese-made iOS products found to violate patents related to 3G wireless technology and same-time transmission of multiple services, according to BBC News.

"Administration officials said Mr. Froman's decision was made without involvement by Mr. Obama or his senior aides in the White House," Chen said. "A 2005 executive order signed by President George W. Bush delegates the authority to act in cases like this to the United States trade representative, officials said."