Big guns have Apple's back in iPhone 4 ban

What do Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and AT&T have in common? All four of the major corporations are jumping to Apple's defense against the impending iPhone 4 ban ordered by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The Wall Street Journal reports that a trade group representing Microsoft, Oracle and Intel -- BSA -- was joined by AT&T in supporting Apple's side of the ban, which was brought about thanks to arch-rival Samsung. Samsung won a case before the ITC, and the potential ban, which still has to be approved by US Trade Representative Michael Froman before going into effect on August 4, was sought as a patent-infringement settlement. BSA argues that the use of essential industry patents to ban products should not be allowed, except under unusual circumstances.

The companies are concerned, though, that the ban sets precedent. Companies must license patented technology to competitors at a reasonable rate. This is known as FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing. Apple and the other companies are concerned that the ITC ruling might allow companies to demand excessive royalties by threatening a product ban on rivals if they don't open their wallets.

AT&T's concern is that the ITC ruling eliminates a highly popular entry-level iPhone for AT&T customers, and they argue that a ban is "inconsistent with the president's goal of ubiquitous broadband deployment."