The decision, announced today, follows a ruling back in August by the International Trade Commission which determined that Samsung had violated two Apple patents, subsequently blocking shipments of infringing devices into the US.
Obama had previously used his veto powers to lift a similar ban on Apple devices, leading some critics to see the administration as playing favourites. Apple is a US-based company while Samsung is Korean.
As first reported by news outlet Bloomberg, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement today, “After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow the import ban to proceed."
The following patents were found to be infringed upon:
US Patent No. 7,479,949, aka the ’949 patent; affects claims 1, 4-6, 10, and 17-20): Concerns touch commands on touch-screen devices.
US Patent No. 7,912,501, aka the ’501 patent; affects claims 1-4 and 8): Concerns input and output detection for microphone and headphone jacks.
It remains unclear which Samsung smartphones and tablets will be banned, but newer Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Note 3 or Note 10.1, will not be banned.
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.