Will President Obama Intervene in ITC Ruling Against Apple?

The latest battle in the cross-border patent infringement war between Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple, Inc. goes to Samsung. However, President Barak Obama could intervene and save Apple from a potential product ban.

The President’s opinion is relevant because the latest patent infringement decision comes from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). It found that several older Apple devices, including the AT&T models of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3G, infringe a mobile technology patent held by Samsung.

As part of its decision, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting Apple from importing infringing devices. It also issued a cease and desist order banning the sale and distribution of the infringing products within the United States. While the ruling does not impact Apple’s newer smartphones and tablets, many of the banned devices, including the iPhone 4, are still top sellers.

The ITC determination is final, and the investigation is now terminated. However, Apple does have two distinct remedies. The first avenue is more traditional. Apple can appeal the ITC final determination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The second is unique to ITC actions. Under 19 U.S.C. 1337(j), the ITC must transmit a copy of its determination and the record on which it is based to the President. The President then has 60 days to review the ruling and decide whether to overturn it for policy reasons. If he disapproves of the ruling and notifies the ITC of his disapproval, it “shall have no force or effect.”

At this point, it is unclear if President Obama is willing to intervene. However, given the Administration’s recent criticism of patent trolls and the so-called “Smartphone Wars,” any position that he does take is likely to be closely scrutinized.

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– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +