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Obama administration vetoes ITC import ban on older iPhones and iPads

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As reported by the Wall Street Journal, on Saturday the Obama administration vetoed the US International Trade Commission's import ban on older models of Apple's iPads and iPhones. The ITC ordered the ban after it found the Apple devices infringed a Samsung patent. The ban, had it been enforced, would have blocked importation of the GSM-compatible iPad 2 and iPhone 4.

In his letter to the Chairman of the ITC, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman focused on the issue of the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing of standards-essential patents (SEPs). He writes that "licensing SEPs on FRAND terms is an important element of the Administration's policy of promoting innovation and economic progress."

Apple contacted AllThingsD with a statement supporting the decision. "We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way," an Apple spokeswoman said.

Froman says this decision is "not an endorsement or criticism of the Commission's decision or analysis" and adds that Samsung may "continue to pursue its rights through the courts." You can read his full decision in this PDF.

Apple has its own complaint pending against Samsung with the ITC, as noted yesterday. Although Verizon doesn't sell the GSM iPad 2 or iPhone 4, a company representative weighed in supporting the Obama veto in the WSJ last month.

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