The man who in the first months of his reign took over the bankruptcy process turning it over on its head to benefit the state over centuries of established creditor rights (with GM, Chrysler and a whole lot of union votes), and who defined his entire first term by nationalizing the US healthcare system, who personally determined the cutoff for “wealth” at $250,000 per year (with the corresponding tax hike “benefits” to go with it), not to mention inheriting the George W. Bush personal surveillance apparatus and taking the nationalization of individual rights and liberties to a whole new level, has just decided to branch out and subordinate yet another two birds of distributed, efficient, global decision-making to his will: trade and patent law.
A few hours ago the Obama administration vetoed a U.S. trade body’s ban on the sale of some Apple iPhones and iPads, a rare move that upends a legal victory for smartphone rival Samsung Electronics Co. Previously, the US International Trade Commission had ordered the ban on some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads in June after finding the products infringed a Samsung patent. However, on Saturday afternoon, Obama’s Trade Representative Michael Froman announced a decision to veto the ban on older Apple devices, citing concerns about patent holders gaining “undue leverage.” The was the first time since 1987 that a presidential administration had vetoed a product ban ordered by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
And just in case Samsung is stunned by this ridiculous intervention by the head of state into both patent law and international commerce, traditionally driven by such simple, and long defunct, market forces as supply and demand, Froman said Samsung could continue to pursue its patent rights through the courts. In other words, please use the “impartial” US judicial system: the same judicial system whose most superior body, the Supreme Court, in a grandstanding political move last summer, passed Obamacare along purely political lines. Surely Samsung will be delighted with all the optionality handed to it.
More from the WSJ:
The ban had raised concerns among U.S. antitrust enforcers as well as some technology companies and lawmakers. They questioned whether companies should be able to use their essential technology patents to block rival products from the marketplace.
Apple on Saturday praised the administration for “standing up for innovation.” The company had argued to the trade representative that the ban was inappropriate because Samsung had committed to license its patented technologies that were included in industrywide standards for wireless devices.
Samsung on Saturday said it was disappointed by the Obama’s administration’s veto. The company said the original ITC decision correctly found that Apple was an “unwilling licensee.”
Once close business partners, Samsung and Apple have become increasingly intense rivals, sparring over the market for smartphones around the globe, with much of the momentum accruing to Samsung in recent months.
The rivalry has spilled into the courts, where barrages of competing patent claims have been lobbed in both directions. Last year, Apple won a jury trial and $1 billion in damages against Samsung over iPhone patents.
Samsung said Apple was the one that started the global patent wars between the two companies. It said the iPhone maker had sought to avoid paying for licenses of Samsung’s patents.
The ITC, which has jurisdiction over certain trade practices, is an appealing legal option for patent holders, particularly tech companies, because the trade body can issue orders banning the importation of products that infringe upon another company’s patents. Legal observers say it is easier to win an import ban at the ITC than it is to win a federal court ruling that would block product sales.
Why Obama decided that it was only “fair” to punish Samsung for having invested in the R&D that it would, and should, then capitalize on, nobody knows. Perhaps it was to award Apple for all those taxes it does not pay to the US Treasury. Or perhaps to show how grateful he is that the Cuppertino company employs tens of thousands of workers… in China?
But perhaps now that Obama has become the anti-patent troll in chief, thus not only not standing up for innovation but in effect, through his implicit nationalization of the benefits of corporate research if such research is deemed “unfair” by the abovementioned troll, further destroying any impetus for traditional R&D, it will be “only fair” that the US government will now directly fund research spending… into more such brilliant projects as Solyndra. And after all, isn’t the grand scheme of that other uber-central planning mastermind – Ben Bernanke – simply to paradrop cash, no matter what the source, into the hands of such “people” as corporations? Because without cash wither all important inflation?
So as we await the blessing of seeing the purchasing power of all global currencies annihilated some more to their terminal end point, we wonder: just what will the US president surprise us with next?