The ITC has banned Apple from importing some models of iPhone and iPad because they infringe on a Samsung patent. In a cease and desist order issued today, the International Trade Commission ordered Apple to stop importing AT&T models of the iPhone 4, the 3GS and 3G, the iPad 3G, and the iPad 2 3G into the US. According to Samsung, Apple used a cellular data patent in developing older versions of its iPhone and iPad; newer models do not use technology covered in its claim. While the ITC did not agree that Apple had violated several other patents in Samsung's complaint, it said that Apple had not provided a strong defense against claims that it infringed on the '348 patent.
Apple, for its part, has claimed that Samsung had agreed to license its patent on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, which were meant to erase the threat of litigation for patents that were essential in a standard like wireless broadband. It will likely mount this argument again in an appeal, although so far it's failed to convince the ITC. FRAND patents have become a battleground in the past year, and the FTC has expressed disapproval of instituting import bans based on FRAND licensing disputes. Apple declined to comment on this latest development.
So what happens next for Apple? Now that the ITC has made a final decision, it's subject to a 60-day period during which the White House can decide to veto it. If it's not vetoed, Apple can appeal the decision, while Customs determines the scope of the ban. Just as HTC's One X and Evo 4G LTE were held at customs after the ITC found it had infringed on an Apple patent, Apple's AT&T phones and tablets could be held at the border. While White House vetos of ITC decisions are rare, however, this ruling comes just as President Barack Obama has announced his intention to cut down on "patent trolling" and lessen the frequency with which companies seek ITC bans on competitors' products.
Nilay Patel and Matt Macari contributed to this report.
Update: In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet has said that the company plans to appeal the decision. Huguet reiterated her statement to us:
We are disappointed that the Commission has overturned an earlier ruling and we plan to appeal. Today's decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.
Samsung is using a strategy which has been rejected by courts and regulators around the world. They've admitted that it's against the interests of consumers in Europe and elsewhere, yet here in the United States Samsung continues to try to block the sale of Apple products by using patents they agreed to license to anyone for a reasonable fee."
Update: Samsung issued a statement praising the verdict to Korea's Yonhap News, saying "ITC's decision made it clear that Apple has made an unauthorized use of Samsung's patents. We will do our best to defend our intellectual property rights."