What a difference a week makes. A week ago, Samsung’s patent win over Apple was vetoed by the Obama administration amidst cries of protectionism from the South Koreans. Today, another ban looms with the tables reversed with Apple winning in the ITC and Samsung facing a ban.
When Obama vetoed the Apple ban, US trade representative Michael Froman claimed that Samsung had undue leverage and that the administration was vetoing the ban due to the effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers.
The question is, if US consumers suffer from lack of older iPhones, would they also suffer from lack of older Samsung Androids? Or was it a lame excuse to mask a growing chorus of protectionism that we are seeing, with Huawei-bashing being another blatant example?
Of course the two cases are not mirror images of each other. Not vetoing the ban would smack of protectionism while vetoing the ban would mean more interference by the executive in what should be independent judicial proceedings, breaking one of the fundamental tenets of democracy (if one considers the ITC as a court, which strictly speaking it is not).
Last week’s veto was the first since Ronald Reagan was in power and in that case, it was about protecting the American shoemaking industry.
Or was it because Tim Cook and the other members of the Axis of Espionage from Google and AT&T met with Obama last week in a top-secret meeting while Samsung mobile head honcho J. K. Shin was not invited?
We will know soon, within 60 days to be exact.