Verizon asks Obama to prevent upcoming iPhone sales ban

By , Jul 25, 2013

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In April, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ordered an import ban on the iPhone 3G/3GS/4 after determining Apple had violated Samsung’s 3G cellular technology patent. Apple was hoping the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) would overturn ITC’s decision on the basis that Samsung was asserting a standards-essential patent.

Needles to say, Apple asked ITC to stay an order while the court considered the appeal, arguing the sales ban would “sweep away an entire segment of Apple’s product offerings.” And in an interesting twist earlier this week, the nation’s top carrier Verizon Wireless pressured President Obama to intervene in the Apple v. Samsung case and veto the impending ban…

The Big Red telco dispatched its general counsel Randal S. Milch who took to The Wall Street Journal, penning an editorial asking the Obama administration to prevent the iPhone ban.

If the administration signaled that it would veto ITC relief orders in instances where courts would have found such orders inequitable, it could discourage parties from clogging the ITC’s docket with such cases in the first place.

Then the White House could, mercifully, find it unnecessary to veto ITC decisions, perhaps for another 25 years.

Verizon may be facing an uphill battle because no U.S. president to this date has vetoed an ITC decision since 1987. Besides, a whopping 250,000 patents are relevant to today’s smartphones.

Samsung ad (iPhone 5 launch 001)

Now, I know what you must be thinking, but Verizon isn’t taking sides here because the sales ban only affects the AT&T versions of the iPhone 3G/3GS/4.

So why exactly is Verizon opposing the ban?

Out of fear the ruling would set a dangerous precedent.

High-tech products can implicate thousands of patents. If the ITC finds that a product infringes even a single one, it can stop the product at the border. But that’s basically it.

The commission can’t levy much in the way of a lesser penalty. In the end the consumer suffers when the use of such an enforcement tool is unwarranted.

The carrier’s logic is simple: should handset vendors be allowed to inundate the ITC with such complaints, import bans – if enforced – would affect sales of popular handsets on its network, in turn leading to decreased service revenues that might hurt its fortunes.

By handing down these sales ban orders, the ITC encourages patent abuse, Milch wrote:

What we have warned is that patent litigation at the ITC – where the only remedy is to keep products from the American public – is too high-stakes a game for patent disputes.

The fact that the ITC’s intellectual-property-dispute docket has nearly quadrupled over 15 years only raises the stakes further. Smartphone patent litigation accounts for a substantial share of that increase.

From Verizon’s perspective, presidential intervention is only needed when the patent holder isn’t practicing the technology itself (patent trolls), has already agreed to license the patent on reasonable terms or when the infringing piece of the product “isn’t that important to the overall product, and doesn’t drive consumer demand for the product at issue”.

The infringed Samsung invention is the U.S. Patent No. 7,706,384 entitled ‘Apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system.’

The order goes into effect by August 5, unless the administration intervenes.

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  • Pablo Rivera

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    • Misti curia

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  • LAGISSUEZ

    NO! I love Apple and all but you can’t just go ****ing cry to mommy and daddy when you can’t get your way. That’s the problem with the world. You make laws but then break every one of them just to make things work out for you.

    Sorry but when I have troubles in my life I don’t have a get out of jail free card. I have to deal with it and so should they. If I had to be without an iPhone and cell service because a company was cheating and went out of business (not that that’s gonna happen) so be it. When are these grown babies gonna learn about doing things the “right” way?

  • Anthony Antunez

    Samsung can go suck a fat one.

    • Pitchy

      You know Apple plays this exact same card right? Apple is just as guilty as Samsung for doing the same petty childish bullshit.

      • Anthony Antunez

        So Samsung can’t go suck a fat one? :(

      • Pitchy

        Well they can, but Apple gets to suck the same big fat one. Fair is fair.

      • Anthony Antunez

        XD ok fair is fair.

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Lol, now that U.S. patent trolls are getting defeated at their best game, the big kids are finally realizing the how corrupted their nation’s patent system is. It’s about time they did…if they actually bend to rules to veto it, will gladly accept the U.S. as an injustice nation.

  • Leviscus Tempris

    Awesome! I hope this works. If the patent isn’t being used and/or it doesn’t drive consumer demand then let it be. Patent trolls are the worst. I never quite realized what that term meant exactly until this post! I’m glad I’ve read it and now I see that Apple and other companies are fighting over nothing.

  • Leviscus Tempris

    If you don’t use it you loose it. Patents should also count here. If not used in a certain time period then it should be dropped. Or perhaps a payment like a pay as go warranty and if you miss last day to pay you must reenter the patent system. Plus if your smart and keep your mouth shut then you shouldn’t need to worry if your patent is dropped for a few days as you gather money for something and making your money not even from your own patent. Just saying this would be a good idea.

  • Taf Khan

    The networks could play boss… Verizon, you don’t like the iPhone ban? Then drop Samsung in protest!

    • Pitchy

      So it’s OK for Apple to try to get Samsung phones banned all across the world, but the moment Samsung does it, they are the bad guy?

      • Taf Khan

        It’s a ban for a essential component which has to be licensed fairly… That’s different! You do know the difference?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Yeah, just like Apple bans devices for being rectangular with curved edges. Now they’re getting a taste of their own medicine.

      • Pitchy

        Have you even bothered to look at the insane shit Apple has sued others for? I mean this is the company that sued the city of New York for it’s big apple recycling program logo.

        As mentioned by MrElectrifyer, rectangle phones with rounded corners, even though LG had that exact same shape out before the iPhone. They have sued over magnetic power connectors that were used 10-15 years prior on things like deep fryers, but holy hell, put it on a laptop and suddenly Apple thinks they invented it magnets.

  • Gorgonphone

    lol they banned all the old iPhones hahahaha