Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (005930) Hopes Obama Administration Will Overturn Import Ban

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This past August, the Obama administration overturned an import ban that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) won against Apple for older iPhones and iPads.  Apple was accused of infringing one of Samsung’s standard-essential patents.  Samsung is now hoping to receive similar treatment from Washington.  The International Trade Commission ruled against Samsung on August 9th by saying that the Galaxy S 4G, Fascinate, Captivate, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 violates a couple of Apple’s patents regarding touchscreen controls on mobile devices and audio I/O headset plugs.  Tonight, the 60-day Presidential review period ends.

“The world is watching how Samsung is treated by the United States in this ‘smartphone war,’” stated Samsung in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative as quoted by AllThingsD. “The administration has a significant interest in avoiding the perception of favoritism and protectionism toward U.S. companies.”  The elephant in the case is that Samsung is a Korean-based company while Apple is U.S.-based.

The difference between the Apple ban and Samsung ban is the type of patents at hand.  Apple’s patents were regarding differentiating features while Samsung’s patents were based on industry standards that the company is obligated to license with fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).  Apple’s differentiating features can be worked around, but standards cannot be worked around.  This is why the product ban that Samsung won against Apple was vetoed.

“Overly-broad remedial orders covering complex products, of which only minor features are found to infringe, threaten legitimate trade and stifle innovation,” added Samsung. “There is a strong policy interest in ensuring that a patentee cannot hold an entire market hostage because of insignificant improvements to minor features or components.”

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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