Outside an Apple Store in San Francisco.
(Photo: Russel A. Daniels, AP file)
(USA Today) -- The Obama administration has rejected a U.S. International Trade Commission order that Apple be banned from selling certain older iPhones and iPads that the commission said violated Samsung Electronics patents.
Styled a "veto," the move is not unheard of, but it is rare. The last time a presidential veto of a product ban was invoked was 1987, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In a June 4 ruling, the commission banned the importation into the U.S. of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T. The move effectively banned the sale of those items in the U.S. that were designed to work with AT&T service, Yahoo News has reported.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman notified the Washington-based commission in a letter Saturday that he was acting on President Obama's authority in vetoing the importation ban.
"My decision," Froman wrote, "does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy."
"On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights in the courts," Froman continued.
He said in the letter to commission Chairman Irving Williamson that the veto was based on technical policy considerations and their "effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers."
Apple is a U.S.-based company, but the affected devices are produced in China.
"We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. "Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."
Samsung had no immediate comment.