Samsung loses bid to stop import ban

October 8, 2013

Samsung lost a bid to stop an import ban handed down by the International Trade Commission on Tuesday, just months after the Obama administration agreed to overturn a similar ban against older Apple products.

The U.S. trade representative declined to overturn a similar import ban against Samsung on Tuesday, saying that the ban did not pose a great enough threat to the consumer market to stop.

“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 to proceed, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in his decision letter.

Bloomberg reported Sunday that Samsung had asked the administration to overturn the ban issued in August. According to the report, the Korean-based company said the “world is watching how Samsung is treated by the United States in this ‘smartphone war,’ ” and cautioning that the Obama administration had “significant interest” in avoiding the appearance of favoritism toward U.S.-based companies.

The Obama administration in August stopped an import ban of older iPhones and iPads that came about after the two firms could not come to a licensing agreement on industry-standard patents held by Samsung.

In that ruling, the administration said the ban would harm consumers. That same reasoning, however, did not appear to apply in this instance, in part because the patents at issue in this case were not deemed to be “standard-essential” patents, which tech companies are required to license out at fair and reasonable rates.

The ban against Samsung was handed down from the ITC over the summer, after the court found Samsung had infringed on Apple patents regarding the design of its headphone jack and display. Samsung said at the time that it had “already taken measures” to ensure that its products would continue to be available in the United States. In many cases, companies that face bans such as these opt to design around the infringing aspects of their software to continue sales of their products.

While it’s unclear how heavy an impact the ruling would have on Samsung products in the U.S., a Samsung spokeswoman said in a statement that the company is “disappointed” by the ruling.

“It will serve only to reduce competition and limit choice for the American consumer,” the firm said in a statement.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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