The Obama administration has decided to allow Apple to keep importing older versions of the iPhone and iPad, reversing a decision by the International Trade Commission banning the imports.
The decision by the ITC in June banning Apple from importing the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 for U.S. sale, because Apple had violated Samsung patents on wireless technology was a major setback for the company.
But that was subject to review from the White House, and one day before an Aug. 4 deadline, President Obama's trade representative invalidated the ban and granted Apple a reprieve.
Citing public interest, and fears that patent-holders could gain "undue leverage" when competitors want to use or license their technologies, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman wrote that Apple can keep importing the older iPads and iPhones. It was the first time since 1987 that an administration had overturned a product ban like this one.
The commission should "examine thoroughly and carefully on its own initiative the public interest issues," Froman wrote.
Samsung can, however, take Apple to court, Froman wrote.
The ruling was a victory for Apple in its ongoing battle with Samsung over patent infringement.