Obama Administration Vetoes Partial Ban on Apple Products

United_States_International_Trade_Commission_seal-1The Obama administration has vetoed a partial ban on the import and sale of some Apple products which was granted back in June in response to a ruling made by the USITC (United States International Trade Commission). The ban, which applied to AT&T models of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, and the 3G models of the iPad and the iPad 2, was granted after the USITC found that the aforementioned products infringed on a Samsung patent, specifically Patent No. 7,706,348, titled "Apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system." 

Today, in a letter to Irving A. Williamson, the Chairman of the USITC, the United States Trade Representative Michael B. G. Froman declared the following: 
After extensive consultations with the agencies of the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group [...] I have decided to disapprove the USITC’s determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation.
The letter further went on to note that the Obama administration was "committed to promoting innovation and economic progress, including through providing adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights". 

The Verge has noted that this is the first time since 1987 that the President of the United States has interfered with a decision from the ITC. This comes after the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recently criticised this sort of use of sales bans (rather than monetary compensation) as a means of executing patent infringement – as it in effect harms rival products and companies and does not promote a competitive trading environment. CNet had previously cited experts who believed it was unlikely for the administration to step in on this case. 

Just last week, Verizon attorney Randal Milch published an open letter calling for presidential intervention in this case to veto the ban. The ban would have otherwise gone into effect on August 5th, 2013. 

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