Obama administration overturns ban on some iPad, iPhones

Sat Aug 3, 2013 10:28pm EDT
 
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By Diane Bartz and Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration has overturned a U.S. trade panel's ban on the sale of some older iPhones and iPads, reversing a ruling that had favored Samsung Electronics Co Ltd over Apple Inc in their long-running patent battles.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in June banned the import or sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T Inc, saying the devices infringed a patent owned by the South Korean electronics giant.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Saturday vetoed the ban, saying his decision was in part based on its "effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers." He said Samsung could continue to pursue its case through the courts.

Samsung said it was "disappointed" at the lifting of the ban. "The ITC's decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," it said in a statement.

Apple welcomed the news and applauded the administration "for standing up for innovation." It added, "Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."

The Apple products targeted by the ITC ban are more than a year old, though some models such as the iPhone 4 remain solid sellers. Apple sells more than 100 million iPhones annually, but it does not break down sales by models.

Apple and Samsung have been waging a global patent war since 2010, filing multiple lawsuits against each other over the design and functionality of their devices.

This ITC ban is specific to a Samsung patent on technology that allows devices to transmit multiple services simultaneously and correctly through 3G wireless technology.   Continued...

 
A worker climbs outside an Apple store in Hong Kong April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip