US government overturns ban on iPhones, iPads

The Obama administration has overturned a US trade panel’s ban on the sale of some older iPhones and iPads, reversing a ruling that had favored Samsung Electronics over Apple in their long-running patent battles.

The US International Trade Commission in June banned the import or sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T, saying the devices infringed a patent owned by the South Korean electronics giant.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman vetoed the ban, saying his decision was in part based on its “effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers.” He said Samsung could continue to pursue its case through the courts.

Samsung said it was “disappointed” at the lifting of the ban. “The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license,” it said in a statement.

Apple welcomed the news and applauded the administration “for standing up for innovation.” It added, “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.”

The Apple products targeted by the ITC ban are more than a year old, though some models such as the iPhone 4 remain solid sellers. Apple sells more than 100 million iPhones annually, but it does not break down sales by models.

Apple and Samsung have been waging a global patent war since 2010, filing multiple lawsuits against each other over the design and functionality of their devices.

This ITC ban is specific to a Samsung patent on technology that allows devices to transmit multiple services simultaneously and correctly through 3G wireless technology.

Such patents are called “standard essential patents” and they cover technology that must be used to comply with standards set by industry organizations.

The Obama administration has been pressing for most infringements of standard essential patents to be punished by monetary fines instead of sales injunctions.

Froman on Saturday said the ITC should thoroughly examine the public interest ramifications of its rulings in disputes over standard essential patents.

Designed to be a trade panel, the ITC has become a popular venue for patent lawsuits because it acts relatively quickly and can order import bans, which are more difficult to get from district courts.

While the ITC was created to ensure that US companies can compete fairly against imports, a number of foreign companies with US manufacturing plants have filed patent complaints with the agency. Samsung has a plant in Austin, Texas.

ITC cases can be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and from there to the Supreme Court.

Apple has a parallel complaint filed against Samsung at the ITC, accusing the South Korean company of copying the iPhone and iPad. An ITC judge in that case found that Samsung had violated four out of six patents listed in the complaint. A final decision is due in August.

Samsung makes phones that run on Google’s Android operating software, the market leader. Apple has also sued other Android phone makers including HTC for patent infringement.

The case at the International Trade Commission was No. 337-794.\



VLC for iOS resurrected, built from ground up this time

All those iOS owners who had been disappointed when VLC media player was pulled off from the app store can now heave a sigh of relief. The utility’s edition 2.0 is here. The VideoLAN tool will be pushed out only to those who have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch which run the platform’s version 5.1or above.

The Cupertino-based company had pulled the utility from its app store way back in 2011, owing to software’s General Public License which clashed with various parameters set by the iPhone maker. Although the service is still open source, it is now bi-licensed under the Mozilla Public License version 2 and the GPLv2. The code too will be pushed to the fore today itself.

While speaking to the guys over at The Next Web, VideoLAN said that this is not merely an upgrade, but a complete re-write from ground up. It went on to call the app faster than the previous version, mentioning that the tool is compatible with all files that are supported by the desktop edition.

Get multiple choices while syncing the media player, some of which include uploading over Wi-Fi, compatibility with third-party apps through the Share dialog and more. The revamped software also offers support for streaming videos, passcode lock and background audio playback, if we had to name a few.

The global rollout has already begun and over the day, VLC will be made available to iOS owners, beginning with New Zealand and Australia. It is being said that the service has also been spotted available for download in North America.