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Verizon calls on President to veto coming iPhone ban

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As an import ban on Apple(s aapl) products gets set to take effect two weeks from now, a Verizon executive is asking the White House to take the unusual step of intervening with the U.S. trade agency that imposed the ban.

In a plea published in the Wall Street Journal this week, Verizon’s(s vz) head lawyer, Randal Milch, argues that the International Trade Commission should not have scheduled an import ban on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 for violating a patent held by Samsung, and that President Obama should exercise his veto power over the agency.

“Unless the administration intervenes, the ban could be in effect by August 5,” writes Milch, adding that the President should signal he will veto this decision and other situations where an infringing patent isn’t that important to the overall product. In the case of smartphones, there are over 250,000 patents that conceivably apply to them, meaning that patents have become strategic weapons that Apple, Samsung and other device makers use to harass their rivals.

Ordinarily, companies sue each other over patent infringement in court. In the last decade, however, they have discovered that the ITC, which is like a Customs agency, is a faster way to press patent claims. The agency’s only tool if it finds infringement is an import ban.

That’s what occurred in June when the ITC found that Apple infringed on a Samsung patent related to encoding technology. In previous cases, including one involving Google’s(s goog) Android phones, the agency has allowed companies time to tweak their product in order to find a workaround. This time, the ITC provided no such reprieve — meaning that Apple and its partners could run out of the still-popular iPhone 4 in the near future. In a filing last week, Apple warned that the ban will “sweep away an entire segment of Apple’s product offerings.”

While presidents can intervene during the 60 days it takes for an ITC order takes effect, none have done so since President Reagan vetoed an import ban in 1987.

As the Verizon lawyer notes, the case does not have a direct effect on the company because “the products at risk of being stopped at the border run on AT&T’s(s t) network not ours.”

34 Responses to “Verizon calls on President to veto coming iPhone ban”

  1. Jack Sprat

    Boy you can sure tell who owns an iPhone and who owns a Samsung on this board! Myself, I have had both and both are great phones. I didn’t like the restrictions Apple put on the iPhone. I paid for it and I should be able to do with it as I please. So I have a Samsung Galaxy now and am perfectly happy. Both phones are good, just have different audiences. Now go lick your phones and remember to practice population control…text while driving!

  2. Eclectech

    Obama should grab some popcorn and sit this one out like the rest of us. Apple made this bed (by suing everybody), now they must deal with it.

  3. PRESIDENT OBAMA PLEASE DONT DO ANYTHIN!!! APPLE GETS WHAT IS COMING TO THEM!! Suing over design patents when they are importing samsungs own techology into their devices?!?! serious?!? apple is even building a new facility and hiring alot more people for their “futuristic technologies” (which they stole from other companies)….boo apple stop complaining and work to get your company back on top! samsung has been a long time company and finally toppled the “useless” apple closed format devices!!

  4. clydedg

    If Apple hadn’t been so adamant about pursuing civil remedies against others, perhaps they would get more time to iron out the kinks. I think they lost their good graces with the court from being constantly on the offense about this stuff. Also, patenting the look of a page turning? It’s too much. So they are getting slapped back. Good. Their products are consumed by elitists, offer little fxnality, and are over-priced. Hopefully this will slow their roll when it comes to viciously pursuing civil remedies against competitors.

    No one in their right mind would want Obama to intervene on behalf of a boehemith monopolizing, aggressive tech company. This is the US, not Russia or China. Lawyer for Verizon should wipe his mouth and sit down.

  5. LAViking

    I am sure Apple has already imported all the inventory they need to sustain sales before the release of their next phone and before the ban goes into effect. The iphone 4 will be retired and Sammy won’t get jack. Don’t worry about it. Obama won’t step in because it would be more harmful to Apple if he does. It will set a precedent for other countries to override the patent system internationally. That would not be good. This is a delay tactic that Apple is letting play out. The engineered this patent out of the iPhone 4S and above. They are fine.

  6. hundoman

    Does this ban on these older Apple products in anyway get ATT, Verizon, and other US cellular companies out of their current locked in obligations for sales requirements of Apple products. If it does then let his patent infringement ban stand as the US consumer will surely benefit.

    Apple has locked in Verizon to sell $23 billion dollars of Apple product this year when last year they only sold a little over $12 billion. Sprint is on the hook for $14 billion and ATT has billions more is must sell under contracts with Apple.

    If these US cell companies didn’t have to hustle only expensive Apple only products over Google, Windows, or Blackberry smartphones/tabets the US consumer would be much better off.

  7. Richard Dol

    ITC is nothing more than a corrupt institution, it plays favorites to Samsung and Google but it goes against Apple. One would think that the judge is bias towards Apple, why did they refuse to impose bans on Samsung and google devices for violating third party patents and not with Apple?

    • Prasad Tiruvalluri

      Apple should have thought about that before suing Samsung and others.. It is too late now.. Isn’t this the thermonuclear war that SJ was talking about?

    • CodeMonk

      How are jobs going to be lost? The iPhone 4 is their oldest model and it’s still being sold everywhere, it just won’t be sold in the U.S… Plus, Apple has plans to release a new product in a few months to replace it anyway.

    • Randy,
      Apple is a global company with it’s manufacturing jobs being overseas. Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to bring those jobs back to the USA and Jobs stated they are not just a US company, they have offices and investors around the globe. So sure, they employee people in the US and other workers in the US would be affected by the loss of a product to sell and support and yes Apple is a great company. However I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is a GREAT American company.

    • CodeMonk

      You can say the same thing about Apple here… Why is Verizon trying to get a legal ban on a product overturned? Apple tried to get a ban on Android phones and lost. Instead of taking a holier than thou attitude, Apple should have looked in the mirror on their own patent infringements. They have been given PLENTY of time to make corrections to this. The Verizon lawyer is lying when he said they have had no time to make the changes. They’ve had PLENTY of time to make the necessary changes or PAID the appropriate fees to license the technology they are STEALING.

      • J Brito

        Samsung’s patent was made a standard (Standard Essential Patent-meaning essential for all cell phones not just their own) for all cell phones and maker, therefore they have an obligation to offer the technology at FRAND terms that they offer everyone else. But they are choosing the opposite and want to charge Apple 3-4x’s what they charge everyone else therefore that is the dispute with Samsung SEP. Samsung is the one that wants to abuse their SEP against Apple. SEP were not designed or award to companies to price gouge the competition. Apple is NOT STEALING they were just asking to pay what everyone else is charged for the use of the patent. You see Samsung was infringing on design patents that were not SEP’s which Apple doesn’t have an obligation to share with other cell companies. SEP’s are not Design Patents, they’re like apple and oranges.

        • Jayson

          If Apple is allowed to charge the end users even higher premiums to purchase a product because of Samsung technology, Samsung should be able to collect on the fair premium prices Apple charges end users for utilizing Samsung technology. Apple doesn’t have a right to be the ONLY entity capable of profiting off someone else’s technology.

      • Prasad Tiruvalluri

        You know Verizon will have to pay Apple upto 14bn for not meeting it’s iPhone commitments. Maybe this is how it is making the payback..