Obama Administration Overturns iPhone & iPad Ban in the U.S.

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In June of 2103, the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) had ruled Apple had infringed on a patent held by Samsung.  As a result of that decision, sales and imports of the iPhone 3, 3GS, 4, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3G were put to a halt.  However, President Obama’s trade representative vetoed the decision.  This is a rare development and highlights the substantial impact patent litigation can have on a business.

The ITC determined Apple infringed upon Patent No. 7,706,348 owned by Samsung.  This patent claims an apparatus and method for encoding and decoding a transport format combination indicator in a CDMA mobile communication system.  In more plain English, this patent describes what makes 3G phones work.  Since Samsung was granted the patent for this invention it has the exclusive right to use this technology; anyone else must receive a license from Samsung in order to use it.  Samsung wanted Apple to pay for a license but Apple has not done so and claims it does not infringe the patent.

Apple and Samsung have been battling over intellectual property issues in courtrooms throughout the world. Samsung submitted a complaint to the ITC on August 1, 2011.  On September 14, 2012, an administrative law judge issued a final determination finding no violations on Apple’s part.  He decided no infringement occurred and ruled one of Samsung’s patents to be invalid.  Samsung petitioned for the ITC to review the decision.  After its review, the ITC found infringement of Patent No. 7,706,348 based on claims 75-76 and 82-84.  Claims 75-76 detail a Transport Format Combination Indicator encoding apparatus in a COMA mobile communication system using a 30 bit codeword while claims 82-84 detailed a similar system using a 32 bit codeword. The ITC determined Apple used systems in the old iPhones and iPads which were too similar.

The White House has 60 days to review a final determination of the ITC.  The Obama administration said it decided to overturn the determination after considering its effect on competitive conditions in the United States and its effect on consumers.  This is the first veto of a product ban by the ITC since 1987 when President Reagan vetoed a ban on Samsung memory chips.

If you have any questions regarding your own inventions, you can contact Stone Law at 732-444-6303 or leave us a message on our website.