Obama Administration vetoes ITC’s US sales ban on Apple products


Huge news out of Washington this afternoon, as reports are coming in that President Obama has stepped in and vetoed the ITC’s decision to place a US import ban on a handful of Apple’s older iOS devices. The ban came after the International Trade Commission found some of Apple’s products infringed on 2 Samsung cellular patents.

The ruling was handed down on June 4, and exclusion orders were sent to the White House, giving Obama’s Administration 60 days to veto the ban based on “public policy.” And that 60-day deadline would’ve ended soon, but it looks like the President has heeded to the requests of Verizon, AT&T and others to overturn the ITC’s decision…

Here’s an excerpt from a letter sent to the ITC by US trade representative Michael Froman :

“I have reviewed the various policy considerations set out above based on the information provided in the case, including information developed in connection with the Commission’s determination. Although the parties dispute the facts vigorously, it is beyond the scope of this policy review to revisit the Commission’s legal analysis or its findings based on its record.

After extensive consultations with the agencies of the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group, as well as other interested agencies and persons, I have decided to disapprove the USITC’s determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation. This decision is based on my review of the various policy considerations discussed above as they relate to the effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.”

Had Obama not intervened, a US sales ban would have gone into effect on August 5th for the following devices: iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, the iPad 2 3G, and the 3G version of the original iPad. Newer products would not have been affected because they use a different chipset, which does not infringe upon Samsung’s cellular patents.

AllThingsD has a statement from Apple on the White House’s decision: “We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.” And there must be some truth to that, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often—the last time was in 1987.

We’ve embedded Froman’s full letter to the ITC regarding the President’s veto below:

Be sure to let us know what you think of the President’s decision below!

Update: Samsung has just provided a statement on the matter to AllThingsD:

“We are disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.”