In the world of patents there are two basic kinds of patent. One is known as a ‘standards essential’ patent. As I’ve written a few times before, a standards essential patent is a technology needed to accomplish a certain task. An example would be the 3G connection technology used by the GSM iPhone 4 and iPad 2 with 3G. The other is a design patent, or something which can be done any other way. Example: The shape and design of a tablet or user interface.
In the case of standards essential patents, the owner of the patent is required to license the technology to other manufacturers under FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms. In one case in the States, Samsung had taken an ‘standards essential’ patent to the ITC and complained that Apple hadn’t paid any licensing fees. That much is probably true. What Sammy isn’t keen on showing is that it – according to Apple – tried to charge the iPhone makers more than was reasonable, and more than it would demand from other manufacturers.
Having seen Samsung’s evidence, the ITC declared a ban on importing the GSM iPhone 4 and iPad 2, stating that Apple was an unwilling licensee. A decision Apple didn’t like very much, and so they appealed to the government to get it vetoed, which the political party has the authority to do. And – thankfully – they vetoed the ban.
As reported by WSJ:
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman made the decision to veto the ban on the Apple devices, citing concerns about patent holders gaining “undue leverage.” He said Samsung could continue to pursue its patent rights through the courts.
The Obama administration on Saturday vetoed a U.S. trade body’s ban on the sale of some Apple iPhones and iPads. The action marked the first time since 1987 that a presidential administration had vetoed a product ban ordered by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
If Samsung really wants to take this further, it will now have to take its complaint to court.