The Obama administration on Saturday vetoed a U.S. trade panel's ban on the import and sale of some older iPhones and iPads, a rare move that has not been seen since 1987.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement that the decision was made out of concerns about potential harm to consumers and competitive conditions in the U.S. economy.
He also said the potential harms could be resulted from owners of "standard-essential" patents gaining "undue leverage".
The decision was a blow to Apple's biggest rival, Samsung Electronics, whose devices run on Google's Android operating system, as the two competitors launched a global patent war since 2010.
The U.S. International Trade Committee (ITC) determined on June 4 that certain Apple smartphones and tablets had infringed a patent owned by Samsung, the South Korean electronics conglomerate, which violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.
Following this ruling, the ITC issued an exclusion order that prohibited unlicensed importing of infringing devices. The Commission also issued a cease and desist order to prevent sales of the products in the United States.
However, under section 337, the U.S President may disapprove the order in the 60-day review period. This authority has been assigned to the U.S. Trade Representative.
Samsung could not appeal against the veto, but it could continue to pursue its patent rights through the courts, Froman said.