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Smartphone rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have dueled over patents in courts around the globe. Now they are sparring in front of the Obama administration, which faces a looming decision on whether to veto a trade body's order blocking the U.S. sale of some Apple devices. At issue is a June ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission, an increasingly hot venue for patent fights, that said Apple infringed on a Samsung patent and ordered a ban on some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads. The trade body has jurisdiction over certain unfair trade practices and can block the import and sale of products, a powerful patent weapon companies can use against their competitors.
The case raises vigorously debated legal questions that have divided technology companies vying for billions of dollars in sales of cutting-edge products. Companies from AT&T Inc. T +0.39% to software makers are trying to sway the administration's deliberations. Antitrust officials from the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are also weighing in on the ruling, according to people familiar with the matter. The two agencies have been vocal over the past year with concerns that companies may be unfairly harming competition when they assert essential technology patents in lawsuits to block rivals' products from the marketplace.
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(Wall Street Journal)