Washington: The United States took the rare step of vetoing a quasi-judicial trade panel's decision to ban the sale of some Apple products in a blow to rival Samsung.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the move against the International Trade Commission in a letter, saying he decided to "disapprove" the exclusion order.
It is the first time since 1987 that a US presidential administration had vetoed a product ban ordered by the commission.
In June, the commission said it issued a "limited exclusion order" for certain devices made by Apple, in a victory for the South Korean firm after a huge loss in a court fight with its US rival last year.
The ban covers devices that are no longer actively sold in the US market -- the AT&T iPhone 4 and iPhone 3 and 3GS, as well as the iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G, also sold by AT&T.
After extensive consultations, "I have decided to disapprove the USITC's determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation," Froman wrote in the letter, addressed to USITC chairman Irving Williamson.
"This decision is based on my review of the various policy considerations discussed above as they relate to the effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers."