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Obama Administration Vetoes ITC Ban on Older iPhones and iPads

Obama Administration Vetoes ITC Ban on Older iPhones and iPads

The Obama administration, via U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, has announced it would veto the International Trade Commission’s ban on older iPhone and iPad models. The ban, imposed in June, was scheduled to go into effect on Monday.



The ban, which affected some GSM-versions of older iPad 2 and iPhone 4 models, was based on a patent asserted by Samsung that is key to implementing compatibility with industry standard wireless networks.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision to veto the ban was made from concerns about standards essential patents (SEPs) being used to gain “undue leverage.”

As the patent in question is “standard essential,” Samsung was committed to licensing the patent under Fair, Reasonable and Nondiscriminatory (FRAND) rates. Samsung’s attempt to use the patent in an attempt to block Apple’s sales via an ITC import ban was seen as highly controversial, and out of step with recent rulings worldwide.

The ban was opposed by a group of U.S. Senators, which included Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.), Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), and Sen. Jim Risch (R.-Idaho), in addition, a consortium of companies including Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Verizon and AT&T, had also appealed to the administration to exercise the rare veto. The last time an administration used its presidential veto power over an ITC ruling was in 1987 when Ronald Reagan vetoed a ruling over memory chips. Ironically, Samsung was also involved in that case.

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