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Trade Panel Bans Import of iPhone 4, Some iPad 2s
Trade Panel Bans Import of iPhone 4, Some iPad 2s
By Adam Dickter / NewsFactor Network Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
PUBLISHED:
JUNE
05
2013

The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Apple's iPhone 4 and a version of the iPad 2 tablet violate a patent held by Samsung Electronics.

That means the devices, manufactured by Foxconn in China, cannot be imported to the United States, unless President Obama overrides the decision within 60 days.

White House Disagrees

The Obama administration opposes import bans related to the type of patent in question here, which in this case relates to 3G wireless technology, and on Tuesday the White House released a report on Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation, calling on Congress to act to protect U.S. innovators from what it calls "patent trolling." Many of those who practice patent trolling, the president has said, don't produce anything themselves and try to leverage othe people's ideas for a quick buck.

"This is a problem we're hearing a lot about, from multinational corporations and venture capitalists to garage innovators and small-town cafÃ�'Æ'Ã�EU�'Ã�'âEU 'Ã�'Æ'âEU 'Ã�'Æ'Ã�EU�'Ã�'¢EUÃ�EU� 'Ã�'Æ'Ã�EU�'Ã�'âEU 'Ã�'Æ'Ã�EU�¢EUÃ�'âEU¦Ã�EU�¡Ã�'Æ'Ã�EU�'Ã�'¢EUÃ�EU�¡Ã�'Æ'âEU...¡Ã�'âEUšÃ�EU�© owners," wrote Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, on the White House Web site.

That wouldn't apply, however, to the suits and countersuits between Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple and South Korea's Samsung, which culminated last year in a verdict by a federal court in San Francisco that Samsung owed Apple $1 billion in damages for infringing on non-essential Apple patents. The appeals case has yet to be heard and the presiding judge has declined to ban Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets until the courts have their final say.

Banning the iPhone 4 will have some, but not much, impact on Apple, which is struggling to keep its top positions in the smartphone and tablet markets (Android-based devices best iPhone in the global and U.S. markets, but iPhone is still the single most popular device.)

Late last year Apple rolled out the iPhone 5, with a bigger screen as well as long-term evolution high speed data capability, which makes the 3G patent kind of pointless.

Legal Tit-for-Tat

"From a practical perspective, the court ban on older iPhones isn't likely to hurt Apple or its carrier partners to any great degree," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"Most of the affected products are older models, so the most affected groups are bargain hunters or people buying back-up handsets/tablets," King told us. "That said, the ruling is still a black eye for Apple, especially considering the fortune it's spent on litigating against Samsung in both court and the media. I fully expect the company to try appealing the decision but that's a higher mountain to climb with a ruling like this in place."

Samsung gloated about the ruling in a statement to USA Today. "Our decades of research and development in Relevant Products/Services technologies will continue, and we will continue to offer innovative products to consumers," Samsung spokesman Adam Yates told the paper, accusing Apple of "free-riding on Samsung's technological innovations."

T-Mobile told The Associated Press it "doesn't anticipate any impact from yesterday's ITC order in terms of our current and future supply of Apple devices."

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