The iPhone 4 row continues: South Korea decries 'protectionist' U.S. government

The government of South Korea has expressed concern over the Obama administration's decision to overturn a ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission on iPhone 4 and cell-equipped iPad 2 models. The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy denounced the administration's decision as "protectionism," reported Reuters.

On Saturday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman overturned the ITC's ban before it could take effect. He cited the best interest of U.S. consumers as his rationale for overturning the ban:

This decision is based on my reiew of the various policy considerations discussed above as they relate to the effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.

It's the latest skirmish in the war between Apple and Samsung, which have been at each other's throats since 2011, suing each other over patent violations in countries around the world. Samsung saw a victory earlier this year when the U.S. ITC ruled against Apple, finding that Apple had violated Samsung-held patents.

Froman noted in his decision that Samsung was free to seek other remedies from Apple, but made it clear that the ITC-imposed ban just wasn't going to happen. It's the first time there's been a Presidential veto of an ITC ban in a quarter century.

Courts and regulatory bodies like the ITC take much longer to act than the technology industry. The iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 have already superseded the iPhone 4, and will likely see yet another sucessor this fall. And the iPad 2 has been replaced by the third- and fourth-generation iPads and the iPad mini. So even if the ban had gone into effect, its impact on Apple's bottom line probably wouldn't have been very great.

The ITC's next litmus test is expected at the end of the week, when it decides whether to ban Samsung Galaxy devices that have been found to infringe on Apple patents.