President Obama steps in to stop iPhone sales ban

US President Barack Obama has stepped in on the latest Apple vs Samsung patent dispute, waving his power to stop the iPhone from being banned from sale.

With the International Trade Commission having recently ruled that a number of Apple’s mobile products have infringed on a Samsung held wireless patent and should be removed from sale in America, President Obama has waded in to save the iPhone and iPad.

The devices affected by the ITC ruling include the aging iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and cellular renditions of the original iPad and iPad 2. More recent products including the iPhone 5 and iPad mini were not troubled by the sales ban as they incorporated different components which did not infringe on the patent.

The first time that a presidential order has been used to interject in a trade dispute since 1987, the ruling has been made by the Obama administration’s US Trade Representative which suggested that upholding the ITC verdict would see patent holders wield ‘undue leverage’.

In a letter to ITC he wrote: “The Policy Statement expresses substantial concerns, which I strongly share, about the potential harms that can result from owners of standards ¬essential patents (“SEPs”) who have made a voluntary commitment to offer to license SEPs on terms that are fair, reasonable, and non¬discriminatory (“FRAND”), gaining undue leverage and engaging in “patent hold¬up”, i.e., asserting the patent to exclude an implementer of the standard from a market to obtain a higher price for use of the patent than would have been possible before the standard was set, when alternative technologies could have been chosen.”

The patent dispute was the latest in a long line of legal battles between Apple and Samsung with recent rulings seeing Samsung forced to pay more than $1 billion for infringements on Apple’s patents.

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