Samsung protests veto of Apple ban

Samsung Electronics is expected to make all-out efforts to pursue its patent rights through the courts following an unexpected decision by the White House to overturn a US trade panel's ban on the sale of older Apple devices.

"We are assessing the situation. We will seek all legal methods to protect the company's patent rights," a Samsung official said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The US International Trade Commission in June banned the import or sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T, saying the devices infringed on a patent owned by Samsung.

On Saturday, however, US Trade Representative Michael Froman vetoed the ban, reversing a ruling that had favoured Samsung over Apple.

It was the first time since 1987 that a US administration had vetoed a product ban ordered by the trade panel.

At the lifting of the ban, Samsung said it was "disappointed", while Apple applauded the decision.

"We are disappointed that the US Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the US International Trade Commission," Samsung said in a statement.

"The ITC's decision correctly recognised that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a licence."

Given that the ruling covered some older Apple devices, industry watchers have claimed that sales of the latest iPhone 5 and the fourth-generation iPad would not be affected.

But it was deemed to be symbolic, nevertheless, dealing a blow to Samsung in its long-running patent dispute with Apple.

The legal battle between the world's top two smartphone makers goes back to 2011 when each company filed lawsuits with the ITC. The initiator was Apple, which sought to portray Samsung as a copycat of its iPhone and iPad designs.

Samsung had appeared to be in the hot seat after a US court ruled in August last year that Samsung had infringed on Apple's designs and should pay US$1 billion (S$1.26 billion) in damages.

The ITC plans to announce its final ruling on an Apple complaint about Samsung patent infringement, which will apply to the Galaxy S and S2 smartphones and the Galaxy Tab, on Aug. 9.