By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- The Barack Obama administration on Saturday overruled a ban on the sale of some of Apple Inc's products, upsetting its South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co.
The decision represents a new twist in the drawn-out patent war between the two firms.
The U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that he has decided to veto the ban imposed in June by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), an independent federal agency.
"After extensive consultations with the agencies of the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group, as well as other interested agencies and persons, I have decided to disapprove the ITC's determination to issue an exclusion order, and cease and desist order in the investigation," he said in a letter to Irving Williamson, the head of the ITC.
It is based on a review of the "effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers," he added.
In June, the ITC banned the import or sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T Inc, saying the devices infringed on Samsung's patent.
"The ITC's decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license," it said in a statement.
It is the first time that the USTR has vetoed a ruling by the ITC in 25 years.
Samsung expressed disappointment over the decision, while Apple welcomed it, saying it is the right one for innovation.