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August 06, 2013

Obama Administration Overrides ITC Ban on Apple Imports

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

People who were afraid that the ITC ban on older Apple (News - Alert) iPhones and iPads would mean they couldn’t get their hands on the cheaper devices can breathe a sigh of relief. The Obama administration has overridden the ban, allowing the devices to be sold in the U.S. again, USA Today reports.

The International Trade Commission barred imports of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 3G and the iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T (News - Alert) due to a patent dispute with Samsung. Although Apple is an American company, its products are manufactured overseas and are thus covered under import and export laws.

Image via Shutterstock

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman spoke on the President’s behalf. "My decision does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy.

"On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights in the courts," Froman continued. He wrote that banning imports to the U.S. would only create a “chilling effect,” with other companies afraid to offer products in America for fear of having their own imports banned.

Even the rival telecom Verizon (News - Alert) was concerned about the import ban, perhaps sensing that another company could do something to it similar to what Samsung tried to do to AT&T and Apple. A bipartisan group of senators also sent a letter to Froman asking that he intervene in the case, which he evidently did.

Apple was unsurprisingly pleased with the decision.

“We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. "Samsung (News - Alert) was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."

Samsung, of course, was disappointed, remaining steadfast in asserting that Apple violated the company’s patents.

“The ITC's decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," Samsung spokesman Adam Yates said.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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