NEW YORK CITY: The Obama administration on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) upheld a decision to ban some Samsung mobile technology products due to the company’s violation of patents owned by rival Apple.
US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman rejected a Samsung effort to overturn the August ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban some older model Samsung smartphones and tablets for the patent infringements.
“After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow the Commission’s determination . . . to become final,” Froman said in a statement.
The ITC in August ruled that Samsung had infringed two Apple patents—numbers 949 and 501, dealing with touchscreen actions and headphone jack plug-ins—but cleared the South Korean company of charges that it had violated four more.
The USTR statement said that the ruling will have “minimal” effect on consumers, in part because Samsung “has been able to make changes to its products so that they avoid infringing the two Apple patents at issue in this case.”
“The nationality of the companies involved played no role in the review process,” the USTR said.
“Both Samsung and Apple are important contributors to the US economy and help advance innovation and technological progress,” it added.
A Samsung spokesperson said that the company was “disappointed” by the ruling.
“It will serve only to reduce competition and limit choice for the American consumer,” the spokesperson said.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In August, the USTR overturned an ITC ruling in a patent suit brought by Samsung against Apple that would have banned the sale of certain iPads and iPhones in the United States.
It was the first time the USTR has overruled the commission since 1987.
The South Korean commerce ministry expressed “concern” over the August USTR ruling, and said that it hoped that US trade decisions would be “made on fair and reasonable grounds.”
Apple and Samsung have clashed repeatedly over patents. The disputes are closely followed because the two companies are the leading players in the smartphone and tablet markets, and also because Samsung products are closely aligned with the Android system created by Google, a major Apple rival.