Obama administration overturns ban on some Apple products
August 3rd, 2013
04:52 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama administration overturns ban on some Apple products

Washington (CNN) - A ban on the sale of some Apple products - including iPhones and iPads - will not go into effect after President Barack Obama’s administration stepped in Saturday, a day before the prohibition was to go into effect.

Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, overturned a June decision of the U.S. International Trade Commission – which, according to its website, is an “independent, quasijudicial federal agency” that investigates trade issues - that certain Apple products designed for the AT&T network could not be imported to or sold in the United States.

The Obama administration's 60-day window to address, and possibly reverse, that decision was to end Sunday.

The trade representative’s rare move stems from a patent dispute between the tech giants Apple and Samsung over patents on wireless communications.

An ITC judge ruled against Samsung on three patents, but the commission sided with Samsung on the fourth - leading to the ban announced in June.

It would have affected models of the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3, as well as iPads and iPad 2s, that were compatible with AT&T’s network.

In a letter Saturday outlining the decision, Froman expressed "substantial concerns" about "patent hold-up," in which companies use a patent to gain "undue leverage" over use of technologies. He also noted that communications technology standards, including those covered by patents, "have come to play an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy."

Froman noted that his decision does not stop the dispute between Apple and Samsung from continuing to play out in court. Last summer, Apple won a $1 billion lawsuit against Samsung over patent issues.

A Samsung spokesman said Saturday it was “disappointed” in Froman’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,” David Steel said in a statement.

Apple and the ITC did not immediately answer calls from CNN on Saturday for reaction to the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision.

– CNNMoney's Julianne Pepitone and CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report


Filed under: Technology
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. kgbdk

    I'm glad to see Obama and the U.S. government overturn the ITC ruling. The rest of the world would like to see and have slapped huge fines against American companies like Microsoft and Apple. You never see the American government go after foreign companies, fining them, banning their products, not anywhere close to the extent that you would see in Europe or Asia. If you are American and have a problem with our government standing up for our country's business interests in foreign lands, you need to learn about protectionism. It's something that China, Korea and just about every other country in the world does to compete with the U.S.

    August 4, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. HorseMan

    United State's hipocrysy & double standards at its best.

    August 4, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Lele

    It doesnt matter if Apple is an American company or not. Apple did break a patent law. ( yes Samsung did too) But its not fair to ban products of one company and not the other when they break the same laws. Apple needs to learn to play fair and not over reach themselves. Instead Apple is refusing anything (even court orders) they dont like. Especially patents that they dont own but want to use!

    On another note I rather have American companies PUNISHED if they take their manufacturing overseas. Which is exactly what Apple does yet they over price their products when its sold in the US. Products of equal standard by other companies are cheaper and better in certain things. So in the end youre just paying extra for it to say Apple on it.

    August 4, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Jubei

    Wow. The commenters are completely clueless. Samsung is demanding exorbitant charges on Apple for SEP/FRAND licensing fees. Samsung is essentially blackmailing Apple to pay several times more than the rest of the industry for SEP/FRAND licensing fees. Samsung is targeting Apple only for these FEES. You paid posters and iHaters can spin it all you want, but this is the fact on why Apple refuses to pay for the licensing. It's blackmail and under duress contract from Samsung.

    August 4, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Jubei

    @Fkell. Nice try. You left out the fees Samsung wants Apple to pay vs the rest of the industry. Why don't you post that and show the readers why Apple, who is singled out by Samsung, refuses to pay these fees. The prices set forth is required to be fair or equal for all parties for SEP/FRAND patents.

    August 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. JC

    What possible motivation could the administration have to get involved? This is one for the courts, and for law enforcement, if Apple will not play ball. There can be only one reason why the administration has any interest in this case at all, and it isn't because family members are on an AT&T plan. Think about it: part of the patent process for communication involves the review of the technology involved, particularly any technology which makes it more difficult for the NSA, or more quiet agencies, to intercept communications. Interesting.

    August 4, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Like how many of you have an Apple phone, We have a new generation of Apple lovers calling Senators and complaining The big Apple is going on the shelves Let watch the long lines of Apple lovers

    August 4, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. um

    plane and simple....
    APPLE created the smartphone. Without Steve Jobs pushing this technology we would ALL still be using blackberrys.
    Steve Jobs also pushed the Tablets, a tech that has been tried and failed many many many times.
    to not understand this is pure ignorance of history and facts... kindof like the mentality to attack Obama on random igorance and baseless facts

    August 4, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. Sand Toes

    Great to see that our president is supporting American companies and interests first instead of the US always helping out other countries that take advantage of our generosity and still manage to label the US as evil.

    August 4, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. oldvet10

    Want to guess which company donated big bucks to "fearless leaders" re-election campaign

    August 4, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Arick

    1. The president has had the power to overturn decisions such as these well before Obama got into office. It has been done before. He can even overturn criminal cases, it is called a pardon.

    2. Apple is a very large American company, Samsung is not. It is in the interest of the nation for them to do well. They are starting to bring factories back to the U,S,, don't want to tamper with that. We need the jobs (no pun intended).

    August 4, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. el-mundo

    I believe ban of the sale of Apple products would cause job lost; don't think the government wants that to happen.

    August 4, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Robin Jones

    $515 thousand in contributions to Barack Obama and $214 thousand to DNC Services had absolutely no bearing on this action. Everyone knows that money cannot buy politicians.

    August 4, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    @Jubei
    Apple does all of the same things to Samsung. Neither of the 2 companies is innocent, and Apple struck the first blow several years ago by doing the exact same thing to Samsung. Nor is that the first time Apple has gone to (patent) war with someone/some company. You complain about "iHaters", yet you seem to fall in line with the average Apple fanboy. Frankly, considering Apple is a major tech company, and looking at their policies on sharing information and standards, and their manufacturing methods, and their legal department's brute force approach on everything they come across... well, let's just say that between apples and oranges i'll be drinking citrus.

    August 4, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. dd

    Interesting how people don't know the difference between standard and non-standard patents. Specific creations by Apple cannot be used by Samsung. Standard patents by Samsung, used in the telecommunications industry, *must* be licensed at Fair and Reasonable amounts (FRAND).

    Anyone who claims the patent disputes are the same are simply ignorant at best, idiots at worst.

    August 4, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Mac Cat

    Apple gets slammed and Samsung continues without so much as a slap on the wrist !?
    Strange decision and I think the court was wacko.
    The Samsung Galaxy is a hand full of stolen pattens and inventions they don't own rights to and shame on anyone who buys one!

    August 4, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. Ms Oh

    That's standard business practice in Korea... Clone the product, take original company to court and then legally take the product.... Now Samsung is doing business as usual within the US court system.....

    August 4, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. John

    Seriously? Samsung supported Apple in building their phones. Then Samsung decides they've seen enough to copy Apple. Ofcourse there should be some penalty against Samsung for copying. But now Samsung decides to get pissy and sue Apple? Samsung should be lucky they were allowed to copy to the extent they have.

    August 4, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Hugh_Mann

    The gears of Bureaucracy turn in favour of commerce, especially the rich ones

    August 4, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. TLORop

    I wonder how much apple paid for this decision.

    August 4, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. edward_s

    shows that lobbist money works. Corporations are people and money = speech. What happened to free market. Courts ruling should hold.

    August 4, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Choi

    An American person or company would never get a fair trial in Korea. Never. We steal American ideas regularly. These facts are unfortunate(at least for Americans) but it is America's fault or its openness and naive belief in fair play and honest dealing. China is the same so Korea is not the only one doing this

    August 4, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. anynomouts

    Apple CEO is American – Yes and he took in $378 Million in 2011.
    US is the largest Apple's consumers, but Apple creates jobs in China.

    Google "Apple 74 Billion tax"

    August 4, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  24. Ugh

    That's Obama for you, taking payoffs and always quick to step in to help out his corporate or banking buddies, while pretending he helps the middle class.

    Tell me what he's done for you personally. I've seen my taxes go up, while around me the entire economy is crumbling. I'm under no illusion that I am immune, which ironically puts me in better shape than those that are now better off than me, and even a lot that are now worse off than me but can't accept the new economy.

    Cut debt, buy things that last, lower expenses, and live a wholesome life. That is your only choice these days to have true financial independence, outside of being born rich or having some unique talent that can make you rich (as in 7 figure income rich).

    August 4, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. Pissed off

    The obama administration should uphold both patents both are jokes. Apple did push but that does not give them a free pass. Many of the patents should not be allowed to be patented at all !!

    August 4, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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