President Barack Obama’s administration on Saturday overturned a decision by a US trade body that would have banned the sale of some older model iPhone and iPads over a patent infringement case by rival Samsung.
The US Trade Representative vetoed the earlier decision by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that had handed Samsung a major patent victory in June by banning the older models from the US market over infringement of Samsung’s patents.
The ban had not yet gone into effect.
The iPhone 4, iPhone 3 and 3GS as well as the original iPad and iPad 2 designed to operate on the mobile network of telecommunications company AT&T would have been affected by the ITC ruling.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a letter to the ITC on Saturday that his decision came amid concern about “the effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers.” But he said Samsung could continue to pursue its rights in court.
“We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told Bloomberg financial news. “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.” Samsung expressed disappointment at the USTR decision.
“The ITC’s decision correctly recognised that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license,” a spokesman was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.
The South Korean electronics giant is Apple’s chief hardware competitor with its broad portfolio of smartphones, the only ones to outsell Apple’s iPhone.
The products in question are popular with customers who wish to avoid paying the much higher prices commanded by the newest Apple devices.
Apple last year won a $1 billion judgement against Samsung on allegations that the latter had copied the look of the iPhone. The jury decision, which Samsung is appealing, was later reduced to $600 million.