John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple-Won Ban on Import of Certain Samsung Devices Upheld

Samsung’s appeal to President Barack Obama’s administration for a veto of an import ban on some of its mobile devices has failed. A U.S. Trade Representative said today that he will allow the ban to go into effect.

“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 in [this case] to become final,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement.

Won in the International Trade Commission, the ban covers a range of older Samsung devices found to violate a pair of Apple patents covering a method of touchscreen control on mobile devices and audio I/O headset plug: The Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1, and a handful of other devices. The South Korean company had petitioned the USTR to overturn it, arguing that the agency should provide it with the same reprieve given Apple back in August, when a Samsung-won ban against the iPhone maker was vetoed on policy grounds.

But, as I noted here yesterday, the two cases are very different. The patents Samsung asserted against Apple cover industry standards, and the company is obligated to license them under fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. The patents Apple asserted against Samsung cover differentiating features, and the company is not obligated to license them. So Samsung must design around them.

The USTR’s decision is a clear victory for Apple, though it remains to be seen just how onerous it will prove to Samsung. The company has said in the past that it has ITC-approved workarounds for the technology it has infringed upon. Does it have them in place now? That’s not clear. Nor is it apparent how the company will handle infringing product inventory sitting on store shelves. Reached for comment, Samsung would only bemoan the upholding of the ban.

“We are disappointed by the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision to allow the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC),” a Samsung spokesperson told AllThingsD. “It will serve only to reduce competition and limit choice for the American consumer.”

Apple declined comment on the matter.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”