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Iphone Government Patents United States

Obama Administration Overrules iPhone Trade Ban 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the did-not-see-that-one-coming dept.
Back in June, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued an import ban on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G due to patent violations. Now, the White House has exercised its privilege to overrule the ban. In his letter to the ITC (PDF), Ambassador Michael Froman said 'he was not making a decision about the merits of Samsung's case, or its right to seek compensation. Rather, he emphasized that because the patent in question was now a widely held technology standard, banning the products in question would be too disruptive to consumers and the economy.' This is the first time an ITC decision has been overruled since 1987.
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Obama Administration Overrules iPhone Trade Ban

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  • You know (Score:5, Informative)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:03PM (#44466893)
    Money buys a lot.
  • Re:Strangely... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sessamoid (165542) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:08PM (#44466935)
    Because those patents were not submitted and accepted as FRAND. Samsung agreed to license these technologies in Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory terms. Anybody can use their patented technologies, and the only question is how much they get paid for them. When any infringement can be resolved with monetary payment, injunctive relief is not an appropriate tool. Samsung can always be made whole at any point in time with a monetary judgment.

    Apple made no such promises to any industry group concerning the design patents in question. They did make such a promise over the mpeg4 container, which is just the .mov container that quicktime has used for ages, and they have never attempted to get an import injunction over that patent or any others that they submitted to standards bodies.
  • Re:Strangely... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:25PM (#44467031) Homepage Journal

    And Apple has refused to license those patents. They have refused to negotiate to license them. They have even stated that they will not accept a court-ordered license fee unless they happen to think it's low enough.

    Tell me, oh wise one, what other recourse did Samsung have?

  • Re:You know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:35PM (#44467087)

    Apple doesn't actually donate much to politicians at all, and their lobbying budget is exceptionally small for a company of their size, so I doubt that's the reason.

    My guess is that this is actually for the stated reason. Whether it's a good reason or not is another question, but I don't think they're covering up a hidden motive here. Basically, the iPhone 2 and 4 sell a lot in the U.S., and banning them would disrupt the U.S. economy to some extent, so they chose not to.

    The statute authorizing the ITC pretty explicitly contemplated that possibility, which is why it has an opt-out clause for the president to cancel ITC orders if he determines they would be too disruptive to the economy.

  • Re:Strangely... (Score:5, Informative)

    by makomk (752139) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:37PM (#44467105) Journal

    Unless you work for either company, you don't know what negotiations have or have not taken place. You only have what is printed in the media. You believe everything you read?

    We know that Apple refused to negotiate a license for those patents because the ITC stated, in their ruling, that they ruled against Apple in part because of their failure to negotiate a license for the patents in question.

  • by makomk (752139) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:45PM (#44467149) Journal

    That's probably because Apple was the first big corporation which refused to license those standards-essential patents under the same RAND terms as all of their competitors, again as a form of corporate warfare - they're trying to get all the R&D work required to make modern mobiles possible for free, whilst suing all their competitors who did do the R&D over crap like swipe-to-unlock, meaning those companies can't even make back their costs by selling their own phones!

  • Re:Strangely... (Score:2, Informative)

    by djupedal (584558) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:48PM (#44467165)
    You do know how hard it is for some US manufs. to try to be allowed into the S.Korean markets, right? Korea practices protectionism as much as any other country or block. There are many technology and trade agreements in play, with more tapped for future release - actions like this amount to no more than card play in a high stakes give/take game that will take some time to end.
  • Figures (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:48PM (#44467167)

    Apple Political Donations
    Top Candidate Recipients, 2011-2012
    Barack Obama (D) $308,081
    Mitt Romney (R) $28,910
    Ron Paul (R-TX) $16,004
    Nathan Shinagawa (D-NY) $5,000
    Mark W. Neumann (R-WI) $5,000
    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000021754

  • Re:You know (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tough Love (215404) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @05:58PM (#44467221)

    Apple doesn't actually donate much to politicians at all...

    And yet judges and presidents seem to display a consistent bias. Funny that.

  • Re:You know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Saturday August 03, 2013 @06:26PM (#44467339)

    I think there's definitely some bias towards a U.S. company here, but fwiw, this isn't actually setting aside the patents or authorizing ignoring them. It's purely an import-regulations decision, not a patent-law decision. U.S. customs will not stop iPhone imports as a result of this ruling, but that doesn't mean it's actually legal to sell them in the US. Samsung can still sue Apple in regular courts for patent infringement.

  • Re:You know (Score:5, Informative)

    by MacDork (560499) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @07:43PM (#44467659) Journal

    Apple doesn't actually donate much to politicians at all, and their lobbying budget is exceptionally small for a company of their size, so I doubt that's the reason.

    They don't need money. They have connections. Apple has Al Gore on their board of directors. [apple.com]

    My guess is that this is actually for the stated reason. Whether it's a good reason or not is another question, but I don't think they're covering up a hidden motive here. Basically, the iPhone 2 and 4 sell a lot in the U.S., and banning them would disrupt the U.S. economy to some extent, so they chose not to.

    Moral of the story. Intellectual property can only be enforced in the USA if your company has connections. Samsung violates Apple patents? 1 Beeeeelion dollar fine. Apple violates Samsung patents? Presidential pardon.

    If I were Samsung, I'd stop selling components to Apple until they decided to pay their licensing fees. That would put a stop to iPhone4 and iPad2 just as fast as an injuction. That would put a dent in new Apple products too.

    The statute authorizing the ITC pretty explicitly contemplated that possibility, which is why it has an opt-out clause for the president to cancel ITC orders if he determines they would be too disruptive to the economy.

    'too disruptive to the economy'? Read: Enforce laws only on companies full of dirty slant eyes who we don't like here in 'murica.

  • Re:Strangely... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 03, 2013 @08:36PM (#44467817)

    Samsung refused to reasonably license the patents. Most FRAND patents are licensed as a percentage of the product using them. However which part of the product is the biggest question. Typically it is the piece that implements the patent. However in this case Samsung wants a percentage of the phone, rather than the typically percentage of the baseband processor (which implements the patent). Notice it is only a few of the products that are unlicensed, most notably ones that don't use Qualcomm modems. Qualcomm licensed the patents for Apple at a percentage of the baseband cost (~3%-5% of ~$20), where the older product Apple was supposed to license them separately and Samsung is asking for ~3%-5% of $450 which is basically discriminatory compared to the other products that license it for 1/20 of the cost.

  • Re: You know (Score:5, Informative)

    by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @08:45PM (#44467837)

    That "office in Cupertino" is a campus the size of a small college plus satellite offices throughout the rest of town. It employs well over ten thousand people. And those are the high-value, well-paying jobs that propel people into the upper-middle class and beyond.

    Really, what's with the obsession with the location that a widget is put together, when the design, programming, and engineering (The good, high-value jobs that I'd actually like to have.) are all done here?

  • Re:You know (Score:3, Informative)

    by runeghost (2509522) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @09:02PM (#44467879)
    It's not patriotism, it's just that America's odd system of post-facto and indirect bribery confuses foreigners, who are used to more honest corruption.
  • You missed one (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @10:41PM (#44467985)

    One of the few computer companies moving more manufacturing to the U.S. (the new Mac Pros are made in the U.S.).

    Or the one with many hundreds of retail stores in the U.S. bringing in billions of revenue each year to U.S. states?

    So yes, THAT U.S. based corporation. It's more U.S. based than just about any other at this point...

  • You forgot a few (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson@3.14gmail.com minus pi> on Saturday August 03, 2013 @11:51PM (#44468199) Homepage Journal

    Gun Transaction Laws (Fast and Furious)
    IRS audit laws
    The Corrupt Practices Act
    Federal election guidelines (especially those to prevent foreign donations)
    Not to mention widespread hostility to the 2nd and 10th Amendments.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @04:16AM (#44468817) Journal

    Apple is not much of an innovator as you claim.

    What they are is very good at creating a well integrated product with a very slick user interface out of existing technologies. This is a hard skill which very few other companies have, and one that they wish to protect with lawyers. It is not, however, one you can protect with lawyers.

    So they they try by sueing over bullshit patents and people like you step up to defend them. You believe that others are doing a disservice to Apple, but you are just as guilty of doing a disservice to the people who invented those things in the first place.

    When it comes to swipe and multitouch gestures, it was mostly covered by academic (universities and industry) researchers im the early 80s long before the touch screen tech was anything but cumbersome, expensive and unusable out of the lab.

    Oh and as for the interface, you know that the whole icon grid, touch screen and apps was not even remotely an Apple innovation, right? http://www.xorl.org/people/krw/ipaqalone.jpg [xorl.org]

    And the whole nothing but a touch screen as an interface was even older. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IBM_Simon_Personal_Communicator.png [wikipedia.org]

    The point is many innovations that are associated with Apple were around before.

    Apple are very good, possibly better than anyone a putting them together, but it does everyone a disservice to pretend Apple is something that it is not.

  • Re:Sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by KingMotley (944240) on Sunday August 04, 2013 @04:48AM (#44468899) Journal

    Of course the last time the ITC was overruled was in 1987, siding WITH SAMSUNG. Lol.

  • Re:Strangely... (Score:4, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday August 04, 2013 @07:19AM (#44469249) Homepage

    Samsung offered fair and reasonable terms. The ITC agreed that they did. Apple just kept saying "no", hoping to get a lower price. The ITC saw that they were being unreasonable and rightly blamed them for the failure to reach an agreement.

    Read the report, it's quite clear. What it boils down to is that Apple doesn't have any real technical patents that Samsung needs in order to do the usual license exchange, so they have to pay cash. The cash rate is set as a percentage of retail price, and because Apple products are at the upper end of the market it isn't pennies. It's the same rate that everyone else pays though.

  • Re:You missed one (Score:4, Informative)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:24AM (#44476253) Journal

    Wrong.

    If they paid no taxes at all (completely false) then the IRS would have climbed so far up their ass that they'd need to cut in switchback trails to find their way back out. Just by having a single retail store that sells a single retail product, the would owe taxes on that revenue. To say otherwise is just being a fuckwad or a troll - you choose.

    Stop being willfully ignorant, and read [forbes.com].

    Apple pays US tax on all revenue gained in the US, Canada, Central America, and South America.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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