White House Veto Decides Fate of Banned Apple Patent-Infringing Samsung Phones

Just two months ago the Obama administration granted the right to Apple to keep importing iPhones; now it is Samsung’s turn: Samsung products infringing on two Apple patents will be blocked at the country’s borders starting midnight October 8, Washington time, if President Obama does not veto the import ban.


While the situation is the same, the cases are different: in Apple’s case the import ban involved Samsung’s patent for a standard for transmitting data over network. Back then, the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that the Obama administration rejects the ban because it wants to limit the use of industry standards patents to block competitors, so it overturned an import ban won by Samsung against older versions of Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G.

Samsung’s case involves Apple patents for features, which the Cupertino company says differentiate the iPhone from other smartphones such as multi-touch technology and headphone jack detection.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Froman has highlighted that the decisions have nothing to do with xenophobia, or “protecting Americans.” He said that the decision has “nothing, zero, to do with the nationality of the parties involved” because the they are based on “policy judgements” over patents and “the appropriate use of exclusion orders in these cases.”

“The world is watching how Samsung is treated by the United States in this ‘smartphone war,’” Samsung wrote Aug. 28 to Obama’s designee to review the case, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “The administration has a significant interest in avoiding the perception of favoritism and protectionism toward U.S. companies.”

In fact, the import ban would have little impact on Samsung’s sales because it involves older products. However, the company is yet to convince the White House that the devices subject to the import ban are complex devices, and — due to the workaround job the company already did — the ban would keep non-infringing products outside the border of the country.

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