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Obama Administration Overturns Apple Import And Sales Ban

Submitted by on August 5, 2013 – 9:06 am11 Comments

In a rare and unexpected move, the Obama administration has overturned an earlier ruling banning the import and sale of some older Apple products. The move marks a victory for Apple in its ongoing patent wars with main competitor Samsung.

The US International Trade Commission has ruled that AT&T models of the iPhone 4, 3, and 3GS, as well 3G-enabled models of the iPad and iPad 2, infringed on wireless-related patents held by Samsung. But US Trade Representative Michael Froman found that the decision was not in the public interest, and could negatively affect competition. It was the first time in 26 years a presidential administration has intervened in an ITC decision.

The Samsung patents in question were deemed “standard and essential,” which means that they are necessary to industry-wide requirements and should therefore “be licensed to competitors at fair and reasonable rates,” according the Washington Post.

Samsung spoke out against the latest ruling:

“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,” Samsung said following the decision. “The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.”

So what does this mean for the average consumer? It’s unclear. With more devices on the market, prices should drop for older-generation and resold products, which can be a good deal for those more concerned with convenience and cost than with getting the latest-generation gadget.

But mostly, this decision seems to impact the two giants still trying to battle it out in the courtroom over technicalities. Though Samsung lost big this time, even trade rep Froman admitted that they “may still be entitled to damages in the future,” according to the Post article.

What do you think of the decision?

[via BBC; image via AP]

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