For the first time since the Apple-Samsung patent war began, Apple could face a ban on U.S. sales of some of its products. That's after the ITC ruled today that a handful of older iPhone and iPad models infringe on the rival company's patent. And while it's not a devastating blow to Apple, it is one with limited avenues for appeals: the ITC's decision can only be overruled by the White House or the Federal Circuit.
The products in question are AT&T models of the iPhone 4 and 3GS, an'd 3G versions of the iPads 1 and 2. While they're not the newest models, at least some of the products still do well for the company. Essentially, Samsung argued that the products infringed on a patent concerning simultaneous transmissions on 3G networks, as Reuters explains, and the ITC agreed. The order, which bans the sales of the products in the U.S. will go into effect in 60 days, unless the President or the Federal Circuit intervenes.
Some are arguing that Apple actually has a good shot at seeing a White House intervention here. Foss Patents convincingly lays out the case for this, noting that the White House's recently declared War On Patent Trolls would also include provisions that make it harder for the ITC to issue cease and desist orders in patent disputes. Plus, the Associated Press notes, Obama is already on record as being against import bans like these. On the other hand, Apple isn't exactly best friends with the federal government right now.
Or, the company could just let the products in question fade away. The AP notes that Apple would probably retire the iPhone 4 in a few months anyway, or whenever they introduced the newest version of the device, making the iPhone 4S the oldest model of the phone available for purchase. But that's not how Apple, or Samsung, have previously played things in their international series of patent disputes: the two companies tend to go all the way. So predictably, Apple has already told AllThingsD that they're planning an appeal to the Federal Circuit.