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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Obama Administration Overturns Ban on Apple Products

The Obama administration has vetoed a product ban that would have forced Apple to stop selling some iPhones and iPads in the United States.

Michael Froman, a United States trade representative and the president’s adviser on international trade issues, said he had carefully reviewed the United States International Trade Commission’s order to ban some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads because of violations of a patent owned by Samsung Electronics, the South Korean electronics company.

Mr. Froman wrote in his decision that it was based in part on the “effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.” He said that Samsung was free to “continue to pursue its rights through the courts.”

The International Trade Commission ordered a ban of the Apple products in June, after determining it had violated a patent that Samsung owned related to transmission of data over cellular networks. The commission’s order included a ban on some Apple products that worked with AT&T’s network, including the iPhone 4 and 3GS.

Apple was not alone in its opposition to the ban. Randal Milch, the general counsel of Verizon Comunications, which was not involved in the exclusion order, wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal urging the administration to veto the ban. Microsoft, Oracle and Intel also publicly supported Apple.

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said on Saturday, “We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case.” She added, “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.”

The two companies have been engaged in a patent war in recent years, with each filing various claims against the other over the design and function of their tablets and smartphones. Last year, a California jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages after deciding that Samsung had violated the American company’s mobile patents. Though the amount was later reduced to $599 million.

Representatives of Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comment.