The Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is part of the Executive Office of the President of the USA, has overruled a legal decision made in June by the US International Trade Commission. It means that older versions of the Apple iPhone and iPad will remain on sale in the United States and will not be banned.
This follows the ITC ruling two months ago that Apple had infringed one of Samsung’s patents relating to 3G technology. As a result, the ITC said the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3 plus first and second-generation 3G iPads could no longer be sold by AT&T.
Although the ITC decision only affected the versions sold by AT&T it could have been used to ban similar products on other networks.
It’s unusual for an ITC ruling to be overturned; the USTR expressed concerns about the use of ‘standards-essential patents’ in this type of case but emphasised that “the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights through the courts”.
[More details: FOSSpatents.com; USTR letter to ITC (pdf)]