The South Korean government yesterday voiced “concern” at a White House decision to overturn a US sales ban imposed on certain Apple Inc products deemed to have infringed a Samsung Electronics Co technology patent.
Saturday’s decision by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) was widely seen as siding with Apple against the South Korean technology giant in a long-running legal dispute between the two rivals.
The move effectively vetoed a product ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) on some iPhone and iPad models for patent infringement against Samsung.
It was the first time the USTR has overruled the commission since 1987, and South Korea’s Ministry of Trade made its feelings clear.
“Our ministry expresses concern about negative impacts the decision by the USTR will have on protecting patents held by Samsung,” it said in a statement.
The ministry also said it would “closely watch” a USITC ruling expected on Friday on whether some Samsung devices violated Apple’s patent.
“We hope that the ruling by the USITC … and further decisions by the US administration will be made on fair and reasonable grounds,” the statement said.
Samsung has been locked in a series of bitter patent battles with Apple across a number of countries, including Japan and the US.
The ban overturned by the USTR covers devices that are no longer actively sold in the US market such as iPhone 3 as well as the iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G. However, it is still seen as a blow to Samsung, which said it was “disappointed” at the decision.
In a separate battle in US federal court, Samsung was ordered in August last year to pay more than US$1 billion for patent infringement, a ruling which also opens the door to a ban on some Samsung devices. A judge later slashed the award to US$598.9 million.