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South Korea: We're 'concerned' that Obama saved Apple from ban

We're negotiating in good faith, but Apple won't take a licence, moans Samsung

Apple iPhone 4

The South Korean government has said that it's concerned about the decision by President Barack Obama not to go through with a ban on Apple iDevices that were found by the ITC to infringe on a Samsung patent.

"The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy expresses concerns over the negative effect the decision by the US Trade Representative will have on the protection of patents held by Samsung Electronics ," the ministry said in a statement, national news agency Yonhap and others reported.

A Samsung spokesperson told The Reg that the company was "disappointed".

"The ITC’s decision correctly recognised that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," it said.

Back in June, the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that the fruity firm's iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G and the iPad and iPad 2 were all infringing on a Samsung patent on the coding and decoding of wireless signals within the CDMA architecture. The commission recommended its usual remedy at the time, a ban on the import and sale of the devices.

But on Saturday, the Obama administration stepped in and vetoed the ban in a rare move for the White House. It was up to US Trade Representative Michael Froman to make the decision on behalf of the administration and he said in a letter to the ITC that he was refusing to get rid of the older iDevices based on "the effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers".

Froman also said that in future, the commission should be certain that in any of its cases involving standards-essential patents, the public interest was considered "thoroughly and carefully".

Samsung said that it already has an appeal filed against the original ruling, because it only found for one of the patents the firm claimed and not for the other three, Reuters, the Financial Times and others reported. The company said the appeal was filed at the end of July in a federal appeals court but it didn't know if the case would be heard or not.

The Korean electronics giant is facing another ITC ruling on Friday this week, which will decide on Apple complaints that Samsung infringed on its patents, a decision that the South Korean trade ministry said it would be watching closely.

"The ministry will closely observe the upcoming ruling by the US ITC in the patent dispute raised by Apple against Samsung Electronics, which is due on August 9, as well as ensuing decisions by the US administration," it said.

"The ministry hopes such decisions will be made fairly and reasonably." ®

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