A U.S. International Trade Commission ban of older Apple iPhone and iPad models is looming, and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has sent a cautionary letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is responsible for the Presidential review of the ITC order.
As noted by FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller, the letter doesn’t take a stand on the merits of the ITC case, but it does ask U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to carefully consider how companies use FRAND patents weapons in anticompetitive litigation.
The letter, dated July 30, was signed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.), Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), and Sen. Jim Risch (R.-Idaho). Three of those four senators had also signed a similar letter to the ITC in May regarding the Samsung and Apple case.
The ITC ban, which will go into effect August 5th in lieu of a Presidential veto, found certain older models of Apple’s iPhone and iPad to have infringed on declared standard-essential Samsung patents.
Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are meant to be licensed under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rates. The way Samsung has used their 3G cellular technology SEPs against Apple has been a bone of contention, and a decision to act, or do nothing, by Froman could set an undesirable precedent for future legal actions of this sort.
Mueller believes that as the letter was written so close to the end of the 60-day presidential veto period, it is an “unmistakable expression of concern” regarding the USTR’s decision. The letter can be taken as an indirect sign of support for Apple, which is also pushing for the veto.