The Obama Administration has overturned the U.S. International Trade Commission's ban on the sale of older iPhone and iPad models -- leaving us wondering how much closer patents and politics will become in future.
An ITC ruling in June barred the sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G -- distributed by AT&T -- in favor of South Korean firm Samsung after the two tech giants clashed in a patent war which spread to include other companies and courts worldwide.
However, the Obama Administration has overturned the ruling. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman chose to lift the ban based on its "effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers."
While Samsung is "disappointed" at the ruling -- which cannot be appealed -- Apple praised the government for "standing up for innovation," adding that its rival was "wrong" to abuse the patent system in the first place.
The disputed patent is considered "standard essential," which covers technology that is now required in order to comply with industry standards.
By lifting the ban, the Administration may be demonstrating the end of its tolerance for tech firms hurling standard-essential patent lawsuits at each other. The Administration has been pushing for monetary fines rather than sales-based penalties for standard-essential patent infringement for some time; and the unusual move -- not seen since the 1900s -- could be a warning for the ITC to change its ways.
By banning products, not only can you impact consumers, but fewer firms may be encouraged to innovate or attempt to compete against larger firms. However, when technology patents become essential use, encouraging licensing deals instead may promote competition and economic growth.
However, not everyone is convinced. The South Korean government believes "the protection of patent rights" is at stake due to the U.S. veto, and it is likely to have a "negative impact" on intellectual property.
Image credit: Apple