updated 12:26 pm EDT, Tue October 8, 2013
Small range of phones affected
Samsung did not receive a hoped-for Obama administration veto of an ITC import ban, according to an official statement by US Trade Representative Michael Froman. "After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow [the ban to take effect]," says Froman. Just a small number of older, generally outdated phones will be affected, since more recent devices have worked around the two Apple patents that form the basis for the ban. The patents involve aspects of multi-touch technology and a sensor for headphone jacks.
"The order expressly states that these devices and any other Samsung electronic media devices incorporating the approved design-around technologies are not covered," Froman continues. "Thus, I do not believe that concerns with regard to enforcement related to the scope of the order, in this case, provide a policy basis for disapproving it."
The decision to withhold a veto could prove controversial, since Apple was granted a veto of an ITC ban on AT&T models of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Samsung has argued that failing to grant a matching veto could be a sign of economic protectionism, and in the past, the Obama administration itself has said it opposes using patents as a competitive weapon. The administration specifically said it opposes using standards-essential patents that way, however, which was an issue with the Apple import ban, but not with Samsung's.