The White House has vetoed a U.S. International Trade Commission order that banned Apple from selling some older iPhones and iPads that it deemed violated Samsung patents.
The move is a rarity for the Obama administration, and the president's office in general. The last time such a veto occurred was in 1987, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last month, the trade commission banned the imports of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T, essentially banning their sale in the United States, USA Today reported.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman notified the commission via a letter Saturday of the decision and that he was acting on the president's authority.
"My decision," Froman wrote, "does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy. . . . On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights in the courts."
Not surprisingly, Apple was happy about the decision and Samsung was not.
"We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. "Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way."
A Samsung spokesman said the company was "disappointed" in the decision.
The move by the Obama administration is an odd one, especially when there are so many other causes to be championed, such as seriously awful patent trolls. Apple with all its wealth and apparently influence, likely doesn't need championing. Unfortunately the decision shows that Apple and the White House may be too close for comfort.