The Obama administration has lifted an International Trade Commission ban on older models of Apple's iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). As a general rule, presidents do not intervene in cases handled by the ITC - the last time an ITC ban was overturned was in 1987. The news was revealed over the weekend by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who announced that he would stop both an import ban and a cease-and-desist order that would have required Apple to remove the products from shelves.
In a letter to ITC Chairman Irving Williamson, Froman said the ability to license patents that are part of essential industry standards is "an important element of the administration’s policy of promoting innovation and economic progress," according to Politico. One Samsung patent involved in the case is part of industry standards.
"We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case," an Apple spokesperson told Politico. "Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."
A Samsung spokesperson told Politico that it was "disappointed" by the USTR’s decision.
"The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," the spokesperson said.
The ITC import ban was the result of Samsung winning a complaint it filed against Apple concerning iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models. The ITC ruled that some iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models violated Samsung patents and ordered a ban on the import and sale of those products. After the ITC issued its ruling in June, the decision underwent a 60-day presidential review period. Clearly it did not pass that litmus test...