(Corrects paragraph 15 to show ITC judge found Samsung violated
four out of six Apple patents in parallel case, not one out of
By Diane Bartz and Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON Aug 3 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.
Such patents are called "standard essential patents" and
they cover technology that must be used to comply with standards
set by industry organizations.
The Obama administration has been pressing for most
infringements of standard essential patents to be punished by
monetary fines instead of sales injunctions.
Froman on Saturday said the ITC should thoroughly examine
the public interest ramifications of its rulings in disputes
over standard essential patents.
Designed to be a trade panel, the ITC has become a popular
venue for patent lawsuits because it acts relatively quickly and
can order import bans, which are more difficult to get from
While the ITC was created to ensure that U.S. companies can
compete fairly against imports, a number of foreign companies
with U.S. manufacturing plants have filed patent complaints with
the agency. Samsung has a plant in Austin, Texas.
ITC cases can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Federal Circuit, and from there to the Supreme Court.
Apple has a parallel complaint filed against Samsung at the
ITC, accusing the South Korean company of copying the iPhone and
iPad. An ITC judge in that case found that Samsung had violated
four out of six patents listed in the complaint. A final
decision is due in August.
Samsung makes phones that run on Google Inc's
Android operating software, the market leader. Apple has also
sued other Android phone makers including HTC Corp for
The case at the International Trade Commission was No.
(Editing by Sandra Maler, Gunna Dickson and Mohammad Zargham)