Bruising blow for Apple as ITC grants trade ban on iPhone 4 and other iOS devices

5 Jun 2013

Tech giant Apple has expressed disappointment with a decision by the International Trade Commission to accede to Samsung’s requests for a ban on imports of earlier Apple devices, including iPhone 4 and a version of the iPad 2 that are still popular in the market today.

The news is all the more infuriating for the Californian tech giant because the ban takes place upon its home turf in the US.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling applies to older iOS devices that have been customised to work on the AT&T network, including the iPhone 4, the 3GS and 3G as well as the iPad 2 and the original iPad.

Apple has vowed to appeal the ruling.

The tech giant may also have an ally in the form of US President Barack Obama who has expressed is disproval of import bans on the basis of patents being used as a form of commercial warfare.

President Obama has 60 days to wade into the situation and invalidate the ITC’s order.

Apple also has the option of going to court to appeal the ruling.

Last September a court in San Francisco ruled in favour of Apple in a battle against Samsung and patents resulting in US$1bn in damages awarded to Apple, which was later revised by US$450m.

The beginning of the end of the patent wars?

All manufacturers of smartphones agree that the tit-for-tat patent battles and calls for trade bans are not in the consumer’s interest, but yet they proceed anyway.

Aside from the consumer, the never-ending battles could have a stifling effect on innovation and rather than seeing innovation flourish it is likely that entrepreneurs and inventors are being hobbled in their efforts as they fear the wrath of get-rich-quick patent trolls.

Perhaps if President Obama does wade into the debate and reverses the ITC’s trade ban, sanity will once again prevail.

And what should be a golden age for innovation can proceed untarnished.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years