The government issued a statement on Monday saying it hopes to see a "fair and reasonable decision" in Samsung's ongoing patent dispute with Apple, according to The Wall Street Journal. South Korea's government plans to closely watch what transpires next, as the U.S. International Trade Commission is scheduled to decide this week whether to ban imports of certain Samsung products to America.
The intervention of President Barack Obama's administration and subsequent comments from South Korea may signal that the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung could become an international political issue.
The two countries entered into the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement last March, promising "countless new opportunities for U.S. exporters to sell more Made-in-America goods, services and agricultural products to Korean customers." The U.S. government characterized the deal as the most commercially significant free trade agreement in nearly 20 years, adding up to $12 billion to the annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product by making almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Korea duty free.
Experts have said that the Obama administration needs to be careful and not give the impression that it is favoring Apple, an American company, over its rival Samsung, from South Korea.
The intervention is also expected to have ripple effects in the larger patent litigation landscape. Maynard Um of Wells Fargo said earlier Monday that he expects the ITC to become less of a venue for companies to gain leverage in patent disputes, seeking a relatively quick injunction blocking sales of competing products.
The ITC has originally ruled in June that shipments of Apple's older iPhone 4 model, compatible with the AT&T network, would be halted because of alleged patent infringement. But the Obama administration intervened on Saturday, and vetoed the ban.
The administration said the veto was used because of concerns about standards-essential patents being used to gain "undue leverage." The ban would have also affected some cellular-capable versions of Apple's iPad 2.