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In a move that will scare the pants off of Apple and other patent trolls, the Justice Department and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has said that sales bans should be a rare punishment.

At the moment patent trolls have been able to force companies to take them seriously by threatening that products can be taken off the shelves. Now the Justice Department and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have said that companies that own a key patent, such as those that ensure mobile and other electronic devices work together, should be allowed to win sales bans as a punishment for infringement only in rare, very specific cases.

The Federal Trade Commission, which with the Justice Department enforces U.S. antitrust law, has also argued that infringement of “standard essential patents” should be punished with monetary damages, not bans. The two have appealed to the U.S. International Trade Commission to make the public interest paramount in deciding whether to order an injunction against an imported good that uses an essential patent.

If it joins in the ban then Apple’s thermonuclear war and Samsung’s reply will fail completely. “The USITC, may conclude, after applying its public interest factors, that exclusion orders (sales injunctions) are inappropriate,” the Justice Department and patent department said.