Obama administration overturns ban on some Apple products
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A ban on the sale of some Apple products - including iPhones and iPads - will not go into effect after President Barack Obama's administration stepped in Saturday, a day before the prohibition was to go into effect.
Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, overturned a June decision of the U.S. International Trade Commission -- which, according to its website, is an "independent, quasijudicial federal agency" that investigates trade issues - that certain Apple products designed for the AT&T network could not be imported to or sold in the United States.
The Obama administration's 60-day window to address, and possibly reverse, that decision was to end Sunday.
The trade representative's rare move stems from a patent dispute between the tech giants Apple and Samsung over patents on wireless communications.
An ITC judge ruled against Samsung on three patents, but the commission sided with Samsung on the fourth - leading to the ban announced in June.
It would have affected models of the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3, as well as iPads and iPad 2s, that were compatible with AT&T's network.
In a letter Saturday outlining the decision, Froman expressed "substantial concerns" about "patent hold-up," in which companies use a patent to gain "undue leverage" over use of technologies. He also noted that communications technology standards, including those covered by patents, "have come to play an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy."
Froman noted that his decision does not stop the dispute between Apple and Samsung from continuing to play out in court. Last summer, Apple won a $1 billion lawsuit against Samsung over patent issues.
A Samsung spokesman said Saturday it was "disappointed" in Froman's decision.
"The ITC's decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," David Steel said in a statement.
Apple and the ITC did not immediately answer calls from CNN on Saturday for reaction to the U.S. Trade Representative's decision.
-- CNNMoney's Julianne Pepitone and CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report