After the International Trade Commission issued a ban against some Samsung products in the U.S., the company hoped that President Obama would veto the ban. Unfortunately for Samsung, Obama decided against vetoing the ban, allowing it to go into effect Tuesday.
The ban -- which targets older Samsung smartphones and tablets, many of which are no longer imported -- will result in any remaining products taken off store shelves and imports of those devices being stopped. The ITC issued the ban after finding Samsung violated multiple patent laws with some of its most popular devices.
According to the ITC, most of the Samsung products that were originally accused of patent infringement are no longer sold in the U.S, and Samsung has "designed around" the patent restrictions since then on newer products, mostly with ITC approval.
A number of analysts expected the president to shoot down the ban before it went into effect, making the decision Tuesday a surprise. Not only is the ban going into effect shortly, but Samsung has no way of fighting it since the ban is irreversible.
Once again, the ban is likely to bring into discussion the standard essential patents that allowed the ITC to go after Samsung in the first place. Standard essential patents include any patent that is necessary for other companies to use in their products and are therefore not unique.
Many antitrust authorities have opposed bans like this one simply because they believe standard essential patent infringement should only result in fines or license payments. The patents in question belong to Apple, which has fought against Samsung numerous times in a back-and-forth patent battle in courts around the world.
Michael Froman, Obama's U.S. trade representative presiding over the Samsung case, said he carefully considered a veto before deciding against it and siding with the ITC.
Not the Same for Apple
At the same time the ITC was handing out its original ruling in regard to the Samsung case, Apple was able to secure a presidential veto on a ban which would have kept some of its products out of the U.S. as well.
The Apple case was almost the complete opposite of Samsung's, even though it involved very similar standard essential patents which were violated. The Obama administration carried out the first product ban veto in the United States since 1987, making history in many ways.
Some of Apple's older smartphones were nearly banned as they appeared to violate patents held by Samsung Electronics, but after the same level of consideration, Froman came out on Apple's side. Even though that case was settled back in August, Samsung is technically allowed to peruse lawsuits against Apple in an attempt to receive some sort of monetary settlement.
The Obama administration's decision to avoid a reversal of the ITC ban will only lead to a significantly more complicated patent system. At this point, it appears as though no one can come to an agreement as to how standard essential patents should be handled in the United States.