The U.S. trade representative's office said on Tuesday it would allow a U.S. ban to go into effect at midnight on importing or selling mobile devices made by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. that infringe on Apple Inc. patents, Reuters reported.


The decision is the latest step in a patent battle between the two companies that has spread across several countries as Apple and Samsung vie for market share in the lucrative mobile phone industry. Samsung and Apple are the No. 1 and No. 2 smartphone makers globally, respectively.


The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Aug. 9 that some older smartphones and tablets made by South Korea's Samsung infringed on Apple patents. It banned the importation or sale of the devices. The ITC ruled that the Samsung devices infringed on portions of two Apple patents on digital mobile devices, related to the detection of headphone jacks and the operation of touchscreens.


U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman could have overturned the ban - as he did on Aug. 3 in a case where Apple was found to have infringed on a Samsung patent - but did not.


"After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow the commission's determination," Froman said in a statement.


Apple had filed a complaint in mid-2011 accusing Samsung of infringing its patents in making a wide range of smartphones and tablets.