Obama

Import ban stands on Samsung devices that infringed Apple patents

October 8, 2013: 11:23 AM ET

When the ITC's iPhone 4 import ban got a Presidential veto, Samsung expected the same.

Banned: Galaxy S 4G

Banned: Galaxy S 4G

FORTUNE -- "The world is watching how Samsung is treated by the United States in this 'smartphone war.' The administration has a significant interest in avoiding the perception of favoritism and protectionism toward U.S. companies."

That's what Samsung wrote the Obama administration's trade representative after the International Trade Commission ruled in August that two Apple (AAPL) patents had been infringed by a raft of older Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The administration had just issued a presidential veto of a controversial ITC ban on the iPhone 4, and Samsung expected no less.

The issues in the two cases, however, were very different.

The Samsung patents covered industry standards that the company had pledged to license under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The Apple patents were not industry standards, and the company had not offered -- nor was it required -- to license them.

Nonetheless, Samsung was demanding the same treatment Apple got. The world, it warned, would judge the Obama administration harshly if it showed favoritism toward a U.S. company.

The Obama administration ignored Samsung's warning.

"After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties," wrote Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement issued Tuesday, "I have decided to allow the Commission's determination in Certain Electronic Digital Media Devices and Components Thereof, Investigation No. 337-TA-796, to become final."

The devices covered by the ban are pretty long in the tooth and not big sellers for Samsung.

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