In a stunning step, the White House overruled the International Trade Commission’s ban on standards of certain iPad and iPhone models. The United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman issued a letter today advising of the decision. This signifies a giant win for Apple and a sigh of relief for tech manufacturers when it comes to determining the “standard essential.”
The letter (linked below) states firmly the White House decided to “disapprove of the USITC’s determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation.” We can only imagine the release of the white-knuckled grip over at Apple Inc. The tech giant released a statement,”We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.”
Froman did include that the patent owner was not entitled to any remedies but, “On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights in the courts.” The win can boost the appeal of the product and stops any import bans immediately. Froman overruling the ban gained no fans from the Samsung executive team who released a statement of their own, “We are disappointed that the U.S. trade representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.”
No word has come from Samsung to determine if this is a case they will take to court to seek damages that will not be issued in the release of the ban. Froman felt abiding by the ban would have created a national disruption for many consumers, as the patent is a widely held technology standard. Many consumers turn to the iPhone 4 as the mid-range smartphone and enjoy the simpler device with the least out of pocket expense.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents agreed with the White House decision, stating “this is the first veto of an ITC ruling in decades, and I believe the ITC’s majority opinion was so out of step with basic antitrust rules (such as tying) and its effects would have been so very anticompetitive and anti-innovative that this veto was unfortunately necessary.” The greater issue was beyond maintaining an older model like iPhone 4, continues Mueller, “The problem is that this would have made the ITC the forum of choice for SEP abusers (strategic abusers who want to get away with infringement of non-SEPs as well as overly aggressive monetizers).”
In addition to bringing a smile and win to Apple, Froman and the White House issued a reprimand for ITC, advising the next time to, “examine thoroughly and carefully on its own initiative the public interest issues presented both at the outset of its proceeding and when determining whether a particular remedy is in the public interest” and to heed to “the standards-essential nature of the patent at issue.” For now, Apple is thrilled with the decision of being able to avoid a ban. The question still remains if Samsung will continue the case in a court of law for financial retribution.