Government Upholds Ban on Some Samsung Products in Patent Dispute

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In another blow to Samsung Electronics in its continuing patent disputes with Apple, the Obama administration has decided to uphold a ban requested by Apple of some of Samsung's mobile products.

Michael Froman, the United States trade representative, said in a statement that he decided to allow the ban to proceed after "weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies and information from interested parties."

The ban, which was ordered by the International Trade Commission, was issued in August after the agency determined that Samsung had violated two Apple patents. The Obama administration could have vetoed the ruling, as it did in August with a ban ordered on Apple's products.

Mr. Froman said the ban would cover Samsung's older smartphones and tablets. The decision, he said, would have little effect on the availability of Samsung products, because Samsung has been able to make changes to its newer products so that they avoid infringing Apple's patents.

In its case with the trade commission, Apple accused Samsung of violating four patents, including a design patent for the general look of an iPhone -- a rectangle with rounded corners -- and a utility patent for detecting when headphones are plugged into a device.

After a review, the commission said Samsung had violated the patent regarding headphone detection and another patent covering the mechanics for touch-screen technology.

In a statement, Samsung said that it was "disappointed" by the decision. "It will serve only to reduce competition and limit choice for the American consumer," the company said.

Apple declined to comment.

Apple and Samsung, which dominate worldwide smartphone sales, have been fighting each other with patents in the United States and other countries. Last year, a California jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages after deciding that Samsung had violated the American company's mobile patents. The amount was later reduced to $599 million.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times. First Published October 8, 2013 2:00 PM


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