Obama administration upholds Samsung import ban

Competitor Apple saw a similar import ban overturned by the U.S. president

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has upheld an import ban on some older-model Samsung Electronics smartphones and tablets after the U.S. International Trade Commission determined they infringed Apple patents.

Samsung products running on Android and generally released before 2011, including the Galaxy S 4G, Captivate, and Galaxy Tab 10.1, will be banned from import into the U.S.

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The decision by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman follows an August veto by the Obama administration of an import ban on Apple products after the USITC found some of them infringed Samsung patents.

An import ban will help protect U.S. intellectual property rights, Froman said in a statement Tuesday.

The Obama administration "remains committed to advancing innovation and economic progress in the United States and globally," he said. "Consistent with that policy, ensuring adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, including enforcement of such rights at the U.S. border through exclusion orders, is an important national interest."

The import ban will have a "minimal effect" on the availability of Samsung products, because Samsung has made changes to its products to avoid infringing the two Apple patents, the USTR said.

On Aug. 9, the USITC found that some Samsung products infringed patents owned by Apple. The USITC then issued an order prohibiting Samsung from importing the infringing devices and selling them in the U.S.

The USITC's order notes that any devices that include design-around technologies are not covered by the ban. Concerns about the scope of the order do not "provide a policy basis for disapproving it," Froman said.

A Samsung representative did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Froman's decision.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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