The Obama administration vetoed a U.S. trade panel's ban on the import and sale of some older iPhones and iPads, reversing a ruling that had favored South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) over Apple in their long-running patent battle. The move was vehemently criticized by the South Korean media as "protectionism." "We express concerns about the negative impact that such a decision would have on the protection of patent rights," the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, said in a statement. The ministry called on the U.S. trade body and the Obama administration to make "fair and reasonable decisions" as Samsung faces a decision on Friday as to whether some of its phones and tablets infringed on Apple's patents and should be banned from imports into the United States. Apple and Samsung, the world's top two smartphones makers, have been waging a global patent war since 2011, filing multiple lawsuits against each other over the design, interface and technology of their devices. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in June banned the import and sale of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G distributed by AT&T Inc (T.N), saying the devices infringed on one patent owned by the South Korean electronics giant. Samsung had also accused Apple of infringing on three other patents, but the ITC found that Apple did not infringe those. A Samsung spokesman said on Monday the electronics giant in July appealed the ITC decision on the three patents.