Obama Administration Takes Apple’s Side

The Obama Administration has intervened in the patent war between Apple and Samsung in Apple’s favor:

The Obama administration halted a ban on older models of iPhones and iPads in a rare presidential move to overturn a decision by the International Trade Commission.

The announcement Saturday broke from a long tradition of administrations not intervening when the ITC issues import bans on products. The last time a ban was overturned was in 1987.

I think the explanation offered for the intervention is particularly feeble:

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the decision to overturn the ban in a letter to the ITC. He expressed concern that the ban would allow Samsung to gain “undue leverage” and allow it to charge unreasonable rates for the use of its patented technologies.

The letter cited above concludes:

My decision to disapprove this determination does not mean that the patent owner in this case is not entitled to a remedy. On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights through the courts.

whose remedies will, presumably, be blocked by future White House directives.

Nearly all of Apple’s operations are overseas. Just as an example, Apple employs about 5,000 engineers in the United States and more then 30,000 in China. In essence, the administration is safeguarding Apple’s right to offshore its operations while maintaining its sales here.

For me this action raises two questions. The first is whether this intervention is consistent with the rule of law. The second is whether it invites retaliation from other countries. Remember, I ask questions because I want to know the answers.

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