back to article USA reverses iPhone, iPad sales ban

US Trade Representative Michael Froman has recommended Samsung's bid to prevent Apple from selling its iPhone and iPad due to patent violations not be approved. In a letter (PDF) dated August 3rd, Froman wrote to the Chair of the International Trade Commission (USITC) and laid out his reasons for deciding not to impose a sales …


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  1. chipxtreme

    Translated: Apple are American, f^&* you foreigners!

    1. LarsG

      Nepotism, pure and simple.

    2. Stratman

      Until it come to paying tax, then Apple are Irish.

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    What a surpise.


  3. B-D

    Ban both companies products until they've learned to act as civilised adults would, until then it should be the naughty step for the pair of them.

    1. Birdulon

      Re: both companies

      I know the first one is obviously Apple, but who's the other one? The US Patent Office? The USITC? The Obama Administration?

      1. B-D

        Re: both companies

        Which part of the samsung vs apple and apple vs samsung courtroom tennis match did you miss?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Money damages, rather than injunctive or exclusionary relief, is the appropriate remedy for infringement.”

    So far neither have paid the other though.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's not good for the gander, it's alright to get goosed. I think that's how it goes.

  6. Francis Vaughan

    Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

    Although the taint of local favouritism will be impossible to extinguish, and if it were Apple attempting to ban Samsung imports many would suspect the same decision would not have been reached, the actual decision is the right one.

    There is a tiny spark of sanity here. Any reform of the current lunacy in the patents system is a good thing, and nixing the thermonuclear options is a good start. It sets a good precedent. Next time it might be Samsung battling against Apple banning their products.

    1. Monty Burns

      Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

      Sadly, I have to agree with you.

      Apple were idiots to start all this but what's done, is done, and this could have been a real kick in the nuts for Apple that possibly could have costs jobs and affected real people. Financial compensation does seem to be the only sensible way to go.

      And, let's be honest, competition is a good thing, even if some people do take it to the extreme and "hate" the other company (get a life people!!)

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers @Monty Burns

        Is the implication in your statement "affected real people" mean that Samsung employees in S. Korea or even China don't count as "real people"?

        1. craigj

          Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers @Monty Burns

          Whether you agree with his opinion or not, it's pretty obvious that's not what was implied.

          Rather that a ban on a product could result in people losing jobs and livelihoods. Most likely the people in China assembling these products. In contrast to just mega-corps scoring points and slimey lawyers milking both sides for all they're worth.

          That you would jump to that conclusion says more about you than it does Monty.

          Back under your rock please.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


            Maybe I have a pedantic mind, but when I read Monty's comment, I immediately thought US protectionism, and had to read it carefully in order to get any other meaning. So, no, I don't think it was obvious what he meant, let alone what he implied.

            The full context in the original comment is "and this could have been a real kick in the nuts for Apple that possibly could have costs jobs and affected real people"

            There is an implication here that the subject of the potential kick would be Apple, and by association, that the jobs and real people that would be affected would similarly be associated with Apple. I agree that this could be the S. Korean and Chinese workers, but bearing in mind that any displacement of product would probably have meant that another brand made in South East Asia would have benefited, possibly more than if the Apple product was sold. So maybe a blow to some workers, but a benefit to others.

            I don't feel at all guilty not worrying about US jobs at the moment, as I believe that most US based multinationals are currently screwing over their non-US subsidiaries for jobs and profit, and I'm not in the US.

          2. Craigness

            Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers @Monty Burns

            Real People did the R+D which Apple uses, and they should get paid.

      2. Mark .

        Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

        It may be the correct decision, but that outstanding one billion dollar fine can't go unnoticed - is Obama overturning that too? Real people are affected by that too: employees, consumers, and other companies.

        I thought that some older Samsung products were at risk of being banned too, I don't know what happened to that(?)

    2. ratfox
      Thumb Up

      Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

      Agree with this, as I don't think that standard-essential patents should ever be used as a barrier to doing business.

      Of course, it is going to take years before Samsung and Apple agree on what are fair and reasonable licensing terms, but Samsung hardly needs the cash urgently, and Apple can obviously pay, so…

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

        "...and Apple agree on what are fair and reasonable licensing term"

        But Apple don't have that right. At the moment they are just refusing to pay at all for the patents because their patents consist of dragging a button across the screen etc.

        They have not created anything that is innovative enough to become an SEP (despite desperately trying and purchasing companies just to do it).

        As soon as they have some SEPs, let's see whether they are happy to not have companies pay, and have other companies dictate to them what they feel is a reasonable price to pay.

        The ITC specifically decided that Apple were not playing the rules of the game and banned their products.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Anon 10:10

          Yet another moron Apple hater who has absolutely no clue what the case is about because he doesn't care - he just wants Apple to lose.

          Samsung wants Apple to pay for its SEP patents based on the price of the entire phone - $16 per phone. This is for a chip that costs just over $10, and everyone else pays just under 30 cents for these patents because they don't pay based on the cost of the phone but on the cost of the chip inside the phone. How exactly is that "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory". It isn't, but guys like you don't care about the facts so long as Apple is suffering. If Apple was pulling this on Samsung you'd be singing a different tune.

          Apple has plenty of SEP patents, BTW. Just not for stuff like 3G because they weren't involved in phones when that standard was made. For instance, they are one of the largest licensees of the patents for h.264, without which there would be almost no HD streaming video. But don't let facts stop you from hating on Apple and claiming they have never invented anything. They're also one of the largest holders of LTE patents - through a purchase in this case so they didn't invent them, but licensing is based on who owns the patents, not who was responsible for inventing them.

          If this ruling had been upheld, Apple would be within their rights to notify graphics chips licensees that they were ending their license for Apple's h.264 patents when used by Samsung (exactly what Samsung and Motorola did to Apple for 3G/LTE patents) Then Apple can charge a percentage of the sales price of a GS4 for use of their h.264 patents, instead of the same percentage of the sales price of each chip implementing h.264 they currently get. Do you really think if everyone was allowed to screw around with SEP patents in this way that it would be a good thing? Basic math will tell you that once the cost exceeded 100% of the sales price of the item that the cost of the item would be infinite!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Anon 10:10

            I managed 16:1 downvotes Douggie.

            I wonder if another rational and factual post can beat me!

            +1 from me

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Correct descision, even if the taint lingers

      "There is a tiny spark of sanity here."

      A tiny spark of sanity might be Apple and Samsung agreeing some patent swaps.

      Samsung could offer their radio patents and Apple could offer...umm...rounded corners and bounce back?

  7. EddieD

    Opens the door, surely

    For folk in other states to overrule claims by Apple that their locals are infringing patents? Or just to ignore any penalties for infringing patents?

  8. Scoular

    Apple is a US company.

    Samsung is Korean.

    Samsung would not have had a decision in their favour if the boot had been on the other foot.

  9. Gordon Pryra

    Correct decision?

    What’s the point in even pretending to have a legal system then?

    All those people employed by the courts should be removed in order to save some cash, obviously they serve no purpose.

    The American legal system seems to "fluid" to be workable. If the decision goes against some politicos wishes then they just reverse the judgement or if something the American Government wants to do is illegal then they just do it in a different country.

    You guys just keep giving your enemys ammunition

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Random comments.

    Apple didn't start the mobile phones patent war - read up on the matter.

    Apple has not to my knowledge sued anyone over Apple patents where FRAND agreements exist (there may not actually be any such patents).

    Apple has sued over trade dress (aka. design patents), and specialised software patents that they own and which are available for a price. Apple are not required to license these patents to competitors or anyone else if they so choose and they have nothing to do with standards.

    Samsung have several times (like google/motorola) tried to get the courts and other arbiters of such things to buy off on the idea that they can sue others for damages for infringement of their FRAND patents. This will never fly and is disingenuous to say the least. At best it can be about licensing terms (money), and the terms a FRAND patent owner can get are very limited by how much others pay for the same licences. Samsung is the bad boy here, and Googlorola is worse.

    All you Apple haters really demonstrate an appalling lack of knowledge, lack of understanding and lack or rational thought on these matters.

    That all being said, was this particular dispute actually over a FRAND patent?

    1. Babbit55

      The point you seem to miss though is that Samsung did attempt to licence FRAND for a reasonable price, to with Apple said sod you and didn't pay instead attempting to take them to court

    2. aj87

      Yes it was over a FRAND patent, and Apple were found to be using the FRAND patent without fairly licensing it from Samsung, they should have negotiated with them instead of throwing their toys out of the pram, they seem to value BS patents like pinch to zoom, (which even the US Patent Office are finally realising are BS) the dollar values per device they claimed in the case against Samsung was absurd, but think they shouldn't have to pay more than a dollar for something fundamental to 3G.

      If Apple are allowed to get away with using FRAND patents for nothing but patent every other little thing, it makes FRAND pointless, if FRAND is pointless kiss goodbye to the few actual standards.

      TL;DR, Apple were found to not be attempting to negotiate at all with Samsung, that's why the ITC ruled against them. Even though this ban was vetoed, I expect to see Samsung will press on for damages since they WON this case.

      1. LPF


        Maybe you want to read up little on the ruling that forced the veto , before opening your mouth

        "The patent in question was part -- and only a tiny part -- of an international standard, and as such

        Samsung had agreed to make it available for licensing under terms that are fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND).

        Samsung had made no effort to demonstrate that the licensing terms it offered Apple "satisfied an objective standard of reasonableness."

        That the only time Samsung made such an offer -- in oral discussions in December 2012 -- it came with strings attached to which Apple could not agree.

        What those strings were are blacked out in the document, but Pinkert adds in the next sentence: "it is neither fair nor non-discriminatory for the holder of the FRAND-encumbered patent to require licenses to non-FRAND-encumberd patents as a condition for licensing its patent" (emphasis his)."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Funny how the ITC who had access to all documentations and 5 out of the 6 agreed with the ban. Strange that the quoted article talks about how "Foss Patents was as ever on top of the case".

          Surely couldn't be biased if they think that Foss Patents brings any sensible opinion to the table.

          I completely disagree and, so does the law, that you can ask for cross licensing. In fact that is the way most FRAND patents are licensed. Using Pools and cross licensing.

          However, there was little or no further negotiation, straight to court and Apple lost. Their products got banned. It was overturned due to worries about jobs and competition NOT because the ban should not have stood at all or there was lack of procedure.

          1. aj87

            Re: @LPF

            I love the irony of being told to shut my mouth and get quoted an article quoting a FOSS Patents opinion.

            Exactly all Apple had to do was attempt to negotiate a fair price. If this was as open and shut as the quoted article states 5 ITC commissioners wouldn't have been able to bury the "truth" whilst this hero Pickerton takes the Apple high road.

          2. LPF

            Re: @LPF

            Jesus wept , without unanimous agreement it goes to the whitehouse. Apple offered to pay money for its license, Samsung said we wanted access to some of Apples patents. Apple told them to go do one, you only get money. Samsung in the end lost the case, moral of the sotry .... take the money and run next time!

        2. Craigness

          Re: @aj87

          "it is neither fair nor non-discriminatory for the holder of the FRAND-encumbered patent to require licenses to non-FRAND-encumberd patents as a condition for licensing its patent" (emphasis his)."

          ...unless those are the same terms offered to other parties. Privileging Apple violates the Non-Discriminatory part of FRAND.

          1. aj87

            Re: @aj87

            So now everyone gets FRAND patents for free?

            Fantastic, where would we be if every manufacturer who created mobile phone patents each kept them to themselves like Apple do when they 'invent' something.

    3. Birdulon

      >Apple has sued over trade dress (aka. thin rectangular devices with rounded corners and a screen of an unimportant aspect ratio), and specialised software patents that they own (virtualized slider locks, adjust distance between two fingers to adjust scale accordingly, **regardless of underlying implementations**)


      >At best it can be about licensing terms

      Then what will stop companies from infringing on FRAND patents and only licensing them once caught and summoned to court? Surely there has to be a precedent of doing the wrong thing being more costly when caught. Should fines for fare evasion be capped at the cost of a ticket?

      That aside, at the very least, interest for all the retroactive licensing and the plaintiff's court fees be added onto the licensing cost or the violator will come out on top even when ruled against.

  11. Green Nigel 42

    Wheels within wheels?

    Now there is nothing to stand in the way of Apple taking up a license from Samsung & paying their dues (or have Apple just been hanging back to gain Presedential backing to force a lower licence price against a deal on tax repatriation? ).

  12. sorry, what?

    A helping FRAND

    Apple do like to have a bit of a hand from other companies who have been "foolish" enough to collaborate on standards. Apple's approach is to be proprietary with as much as possible.

    Anyone heard of Apple contributing to a standard and then holding a FRAND based patent against it? I'm having a hard time finding anything...

    1. James R Grinter

      Re: A helping FRAND

      If by that you mean - do Apple hold any patents that are "standards essential" and licensed on non discriminatory grounds - yes. They hold a number of patents in the H.264 video codec space, and they are available from the MPEG-LA consortium.

  13. Roo

    How about FRAND licensing for UIs ?

    I hate the idea of UI patents, but it strikes me that as the US Gov sees FRAND licensing as an essential pre-requisite for interoperability they should also extend that principle to UIs.

    The various conventions embedded in UIs have become de-facto standards to the point where a lot of people really do struggle to migrate from one UI to another. On that basis it seems reasonable to insist on manufacturers licensing UI related patents on a FRAND basis.

    In fact given the reasons behind the formation of the patent process in the first place, *every* patent should be available on a FRAND basis.

  14. Tim Worstal

    I think this is the right decision.

    There was a recent EU case/argument made that SEP violations should not be used to justify import or sales bans.

    Looks like the US is concurring with that idea.

  15. A J Stiles

    "Standards-Essential Patents"

    That is the problem, right there and then, in that phrase. In order merely to conform to standards, nobody should ever be obliged to purchase anybody's "intellectual property" in the first place.

    If the only way to comply with the law of the land is to implement a method that is currently the subject of a patent, then that patent should be annulled by the same act of parliament that requires it.

    Anything less amounts to privatisation of law.

    1. g e

      Re: "Standards-Essential Patents"

      So, if you've invented something that's so useful everyone else decided to adopt it and it becomes a defacto standard you're then not entitled to profit from you original good fortune and design?

      Plenty of big mobile makers have many patents - moto, nokia, ericsson, etc... so end up largely cross-licensing to each other which has the effect of reducing the financial burden of the licensing in the first place.

      Apple has fuck all SE technology to cross-license (pinch to zoom isn't "technology" or "standards essential") and has decided it doesn't want to pay, luckily it has the protectionist US establishment behind it which should surprise no-one.

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: "Standards-Essential Patents"

        If the government has decided that a particular technology is so important that everybody should be required to build it, then they have removed your competitor's option to avoid paying for your patent by not using it. In which case, for you to continue to benefit from your patent would constitute privatisation of law.

        1. Craigness

          Re: "Standards-Essential Patents"

          The SEP creator has to license the technology instead of using it to enforce a monopoly. And they have to do so at a reasonable price. So a few options have been removed from the inventor's side. On the assembler's side, there is no requirement to use the technology. They can adopt a competing standard (CDMA v GSM for example) or they can invent something of their own.

      2. James R Grinter

        Re: "Standards-Essential Patents"

        If you contribute a technique to a standard, and it gets included, you have to pledge that it will be made available on a non-discriminatory basis to any and all wanting to implement that standard. They can profit, but not single out, over charge some, or prevent some companies from using it.

        What doesn't make sense in that?

        (Patent trolls of course don't participate in standards making and don't disclose that they hold patents as part of the process of making standards.)

  16. Gil Grissum


    Oh well... So much for the iPhone 5C selling to China Mobile. Cook can forget that deal now.

  17. jellypappa

    did anyone really expect anything different

    an apple a day keeps the samsung away..

  18. Chris_B

    Straight faced ?

    I wonder how they ever managed to get this quote out and keep a straight face ?

    Apple welcomed the news and applauded Mr Obama "for standing up for innovation". It added: "Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."

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