The International Trade Commission issued a ruling back in August banning the import of some Samsung devices because they violated a few Apple patents. The banned devices were all older Samsung smartphones and tablets. The White House had a 60 day window to step in and pass a veto to halt the ban, but President Obama has decided not to veto the ban. The 60 day window ends and the ban takes effect today.
The ITC ruling doesn't say exactly which Samsung devices will be covered by the ban. It's been determined that it is older Samsung devices like the Fascinate, Galaxy S 4G, and the original Galaxy Tab that infringe on Apple's patents. The ban won't affect most US consumers, as these devices have not been carried by retailers for several years. The Apple patents that were infringed upon cover the device's scrolling behavior and the phone or tablet's ability to detect headphones when they are plugged in. The ITC ruled that Samsung had willfully infringed on these two patents. The ruling was not a total win for Apple though; there were several additional Apple patents that the ITC ruled were not infringed upon by Samsung's devices.
Apple was looking at a similar ban back in August but the President decided to veto that ban. Apparently he's an Apple fan? Several iPad models and the iPhone 4 were almost banned, but the patents that Samsung claimed were being infringed upon were decided to be standards-essential patents. They were not patents that covered specific features in Samsung devices. A trade representative for the Obama administration, Michael Froman, said in a letter from the President's office that companies like Samsung were "gaining undue leverage" from their use of standards-essential patents. The Obama administration did not like that "undue leverage," so they struck down the ban on Apple's products.
Samsung is obviously unhappy with the decision to not sign the veto. The statement they released was as follows:
We are disappointed by the US Trade Representative's decision to allow the exclusion order issued by the US International Trade Commission (ITC). It will serve only to reduce competition and limit choice for the American consumer.
Samsung also drew comparisons to the Apple ban that almost happened in August, warning the President's office that "the administration has a significant interest in avoiding the perception of favoritism and protectionism toward US companies."