Back in June, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that some older Apple iOS devices (including the iPhone 4 and some 3G-capable iPads) infringed on a Samsung cellular data patent — as a result of the ruling, an import ban was set to stop Apple from bringing any more of the infringing products into the US. Apple immediately said it would appeal the decision, and now President Obama's administration will help decide on whether or not Apple's products should be banned. According to The Wall Street Journal, US Trade Representative Michael Froman has the option to make the final decision on whether or not the ITC's ban should be upheld, an unusual situation — the last time a presidential administration intervened to veto an ITC order was back in 1987. And while Froman may be the representative in charge of this potential veto, the order would come straight from President Obama himself.
In addition to the Obama administration's potential veto, antitrust officials from both the Justice Department and the FTC have weighed in on the matter, according to the WSJ's sources. The potential ban is experiencing a high level of scrutiny due to recent controversy over companies using ITC bans to hurt their competition in cases of patent infringement — both the FTC and Justice Department feel that companies may be overstepping their bounds by unfairly harming competition through banning products instead of simply seeking monetary compensation.
The FTC, Justice Department, and Obama's administration are all paying attention to this decision
Apple claims that Samsung shouldn't be able to obtain this ITC ban since it has made a commitment to license its standards-essential patents in a reasonable manner — Apple also notes that the ruling would let companies like Samsung use a product ban as a threat to extract potentially excessive patent royalties from companies from its competitors. Samsung, on the other hand, says that Apple started the patent war with Samsung and that it had little choice but to seek a ban to defend itself in the ongoing legal battles between the companies. "Samsung has never offensively used its patents, essential or not, to keep competitors out of the market," the company told the WSJ. If Obama and Froman don't decide to veto, the ITC ban on Apple will go into effect on August 4th.