Apple ban: T-Mobile says iPhone, iPad sales won't be impacted

An AT&T customer tries out an Apple iPhone

An AT&T customer tries out an Apple iPhone 4 at an AT&T store in Palo Alto, Calif. Soon Apple customers may be able to trade in their older model iPhones for an iPhone 5. (Jan. 11, 2011) (Credit: AP)

T-Mobile said Wednesday that the International Trade Commission's decision to ban imports of Apple's iPhones and a variant of the iPad won't disrupt sales for U.S.'s fourth-largest wireless carrier.

The ITC said Tuesday a potential ban would extend to older Apple products, including the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G that work on AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks. Those models, however, are no longer top sellers -- the iPhone 4, for example, is being sold by AT&T for 99 cents with a two-year contract.

"T-Mobile doesn't anticipate any impact from yesterday's ITC order in terms of our current and future supply of Apple devices," Anne Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Bellevue, Wash.-based mobile-phone company, said Wednesday.


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Mark Siegel, a spokesman with Dallas-based AT&T, declined to comment on the ITC decision.

The ITC found the Apple devices violate a patent held by Samsung Electronics, Apple's South Korean rival. Because the devices are assembled in China, the import ban would end Apple's ability to sell them in the U.S.

Apple said Wednesday it was "disappointed" with the ruling and will appeal.

Samsung and Apple are engaged in a global legal battle over their smartphones, with Apple arguing that Samsung and its Android phones copy vital features of the iPhone. Samsung is fighting back with its own complaints.

Last year, a federal court in San Francisco ruled that Samsung owed Apple $1 billion in damages for infringing on non-essential Apple patents. But the judge refused to impose an import ban on Samsung phones, and later struck $450 million from the verdict, saying the jurors miscalculated. The case is set for a rematch in appeals court.

The ITC's import-ban order is subject to review by President Barack Obama. The president can overturn it on public-policy grounds, though that rarely happens. Apple can keep selling the devices during a 60-day review period.

That two-month period will bring Apple closer to the release of the next iPhone. When a new model comes out, often around mid-year, Apple typically pushes down the prices of its other versions and discontinues the oldest one -- in this case, the iPhone 4.

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