President Obama has stepped into the ITC decision to ban a number of older versions of Apple’s iPad and iPhone products to prevent a US sales ban.

News of the decision comes from the Wall Street Journal, and it means that Apple will be able to continue to sell the iPhone 3GS, Phone 4 as well as all versions of the iPad 2 and original iPad in the country.

This week, the IDC postponed its final ruling on four patents from last summer’s Samsung vs Apple trial which affected the devices, giving Obama until August 4 to make a decision. The ban was set to go into effect on August 5 (Monday), had the Obama administration not stepped. The veto is the first time a President has overruled an ITC product ban since Reagan in 1987.

In a letter to IDC chairman Irving Williamson — embedded below — Obama explains that his 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.”

An Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD:

We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.

Apple last month requested the ITC to hold off on taking action because the ban would “sweep away an entire segment of [its] product offerings” and result in the company losing opportunities to “gain new smartphone and tablet customers who otherwise would have purchased these entry-level Apple devices”.

The company added that the iPhone 4 was the fourth best-selling smartphone in the US last year, while research from Kantar showed the device remains popular in the US and UK, particularly among first-time smartphone buyers.

The import ban was imposed on the products in June after a positive ruling for Samsung in an ITC case. Since the ITC handles trade into and out of the US and Apple’s devices are manufactured overseas, the full enforcement of this ban would have prevented the devices from entering the US.

The ban appears to apply to the iPhone 4, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G devices. The ruling was decided on a single Patent No, 7,706,384, entitled “Apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system”.

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