White House Sides With Apple, Blocks Trade Ban

Over the weekend, the U.S. Trade Representative sided with Apple in one battle with Samsung.

New York City, USA - June 8, 2012: Glass entrance of the Apple Store at 5th Avenue near Central Park with Apple Logo.

While Apple may have won this battle, there are more opportunities for fighting ahead.

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In the Apple-Samsung patent war, Apple scored a major victory over the weekend. The White House blocked a ruling from the International Trade Commission that would have banned Apple from importing some of its products to the U.S.

The U.S. International Trade Commission had ruled in June that Apple had infringed upon a patent owned by Samsung and banned Apple from importing some older models of iPads and iPhones. In a letter explaining the decision to block that ban, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman expressed concerns that patent-holders could gain "undue leverage" in some cases.

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The decision is the latest in the ongoing Apple-Samsung patent war, which began in April 2011 when Apple sued Samsung, saying the company had copied details from Apple's user interface and designs for some of its products. Samsung countersued, saying that Apple had infringed upon Samsung communication technology in several of its devices.

Overturning an ITC decision is a rare move for the White House; this is the first such veto since 1987.

In a statement, Apple said it was pleased with the 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," Apple said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Samsung, meanwhile, reacted negatively. "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," the company said in a statement.

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Samsung is not the only party that's upset. South Korea, Samsung's home country, on Monday said it was concerned about "negative impacts the decision by the USTR will have on protecting patents held by Samsung," according to AFP.

While Apple may have won this battle, there are more opportunities for fighting ahead, as Froman noted in his letter.

"My decision to disapprove this determination does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy," wrote Froman. "On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights through the courts."

In addition, the USITC is scheduled to rule again on August 9 as to whether Samsung infringed upon Apple's patents.

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