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Obama administration overturns ban on sale of some iPads, iPhones

The Obama administration on Saturday overturned [official text, PDF] a US trade panel ban on the sale of older iPads and iPhones. In June the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] banned the import or sale [text, PDF] of AT&T models of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G after finding that the devices violated a patent [JURIST report] held by Samsung Electronics [corporate website]. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said that the decision was in part based on its "effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers." The Obama administration has been pressing for most infringements of standard essential patents to be punished by monetary fines instead of sales injunctions. ITC cases can be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website], and from there to the US Supreme Court [official website]. Froman noted in the statement that the ITC is "looking forward to the development of appellate jurisprudence on this issue."

The ITC panel ruling is the most recent event in a protracted patent litigation battle [JURIST op-ed] between Apple [corporate website] and Samsung that spans over four continents. The two companies have been engaged in patent litigation since 2010, each filing lawsuits against the other over the design and functionality of their devices. In June the Tokyo District Court ruled for Apple [JURIST report] in a patent infringement suit. Similarly in March a UK court also ruled for Apple permitting continued use of technology [JURIST report] that allows transfers of information over the third-generation networks that are used by smartphones. In January a Dutch court ruled that the designs of some Galaxy Tab models produced by Samsung do not infringe designs patented by Apple [JURIST report].

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