The United States Trade Representative (USTR) under the administration of President Obama has issued a veto against the decision of the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to ban “Apple” products from being sold in the US markets. The decision was a result of a case between Apple and Samsung regarding patent infringement that had been presented to the commission for investigation and resolution. The Commission is reported to have agreed with Samsung that Apple had in fact infringed on one of Samsung’s Standard-Essential Patents (SEPs).
The resolution by the International Trade Commission had been the issue of an exclusion order that would prohibit the import and sale of some Apple products in the United States. This ban was to affect some Apple devices distributed by AT&T including, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 3G and the iPad 2 3G. The order was issued on the 4th June 2013 to be effective today on 05th August 2013, before it was vetoed by the Obama administration on the 3rd August 2013 in a four page letter addressed to Irving A Williamson, the chairman of the US International trade commission.
In the letter, the Trade Representative, Michael Froman stated “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”. He added that the decision was based on his review of the various policy considerations as they relate to the effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.
Spokesperson of Apple Kristin Huguet was quoted to have saidafter the reversal of the ban, “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way”; when Samsung believes “The ITC’s decision correctly recognised that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license,” as expressed in a statement. Although the veto of this decision by the US President Office is commended by many as a “victory for consumers” who would have had to carry the would-be increased product costs due for patent licences.
After overturning the decision to ban Apple, Michael Froman closed his letter by emphasising that “My decision to disapprove this determination does not mean that the patent owner (Samsung) in this case is not entitled to a remedy. On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights through the courts.”