In August, President Barrack Obama vetoed a decision by the International Trade Commission which would have stopped the import of iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G to the United States because of a patent infringement suit from Samsung. Not long after, the tables found themselves turned with Apple able to convince the ITC to ban imports of Samsung phones.
In a strange twist of fate, Samsung turned to President Obama to veto its own import ban, which is set to go into effect today, Oct. 8. The White House has opted to uphold the ban with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman saying in a statement, “After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow [the ban].” The ban will affect the Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1, but any devices that have had a work around added to them to avoid the patents will not be impacted.
Froman, Obama’s designee on the case, said of the reasoning behind passing on the veto, “The order expressly states that these devices and any other Samsung electronic media devices incorporating the approved design-around technologies are not covered. Thus, I do not believe that concerns with regard to enforcement related to the scope of the order, in this case, provide a policy basis for disapproving it.”
Back in August, Samsung had petitioned Froman to avoid “the perception of favoritism and protectionism toward U.S. companies,” to which he responded in an interview yesterday saying that his decisions have“nothing, zero, to do with the nationality of the parties involved” and only “the appropriate use of exclusion orders in these cases.”
Not only does President Obama currently have larger issues to deal with than the smartphone patent war, but his motivations behind the decisions could also be vastly different. Apple’s veto was aimed at controlling the power of patent holders to block competitors, where as Samsung has been accused of overlapping onto what distinguishes the iPhone from others in the market.
Considering the age of the devices involved in the ban, it’s unclear what actual impact this will have Samsung’s sales in the U.S., but the fact the devices will indeed be placed on the ban list have to sting a bit for the South Korean manufacturer.