The US government has overturned an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling banning the sale of some iPhone and iPad models for infringing a patent belonging to Samsung.
The ITC ruled in June that the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T infringed the patent and should be banned from sale in the US. Although the Apple devices targeted by the ban are older models, several remain strong sellers, Reuters said.
However, Michael Froman, a US trade representative, vetoed the ban, partly due to its “effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers”. He said Samsung could pursue the case through the courts.
The ITC ruling was subject to a 60-day Presidential Review period in which the White House could veto the decision.
In a letter to the ITC, Froman added that the organisation should thoroughly examine the public interest impact of its rulings related to standard essential patents.
Samsung said in a statement that it was disappointed about the ban being lifted as the ITC decision “correctly recognised that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a licence”.
Apple on the other hand praised the administration for “standing up for innovation”, adding in a statement to Reuters that Samsung “was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way”.
The ITC ban is based on a Samsung standards essential patent for technology that allows devices to transmit multiple services simultaneously via 3G technology.
Newer iPhones and iPads were not included in the sales ban as they use Qualcomm baseband chips which do not infringe the patent.
According to Reuters, the Obama administration is pushing for monetary fines rather than sales bans for infringements of standard essential patents.
The patent war between Apple and Samsung has seen legal battles in numerous countries, including the US, Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Australia, since 2010.
Apple filed another case against Samsung with the ITC, in which it accused the South Korean company of copying its iPhone and iPad. An ITC judge ruled that Samsung violated four out of the six patents and a final decision is due to be made this month.