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Apple and Samsung patent war heats up, again

November 26, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • On the left, an Apple iPad from 2010. On the right, Samsung's Galaxy tablet.
On the left, an Apple iPad from 2010. On the right, Samsung's Galaxy… (Odd Andersen / AFP/ Getty…)

The latest developments in the Samsung-Apple patent war takes place right here in the United States, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal ordered Apple to disclose the details of its patent settlement with the Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Apple signed a 10-year licensing agreement with HTC that settled all their legal battles around the world. The terms of the deal have not been publicly reported, but the Wall Street Journal, and Samsung's lawyers, suspect that HTC agreed to pay Apple a licensing fee.

Samsung, who was ordered to pay more than $1 billion in damages to Apple this year by a federal jury in the U.S., asked to see the terms of Apple's HTC deal. According to the filing, Samsung wants to argue that if Apple is willing to license its patents to HTC for an undisclosed fee, it should also license its patents to Samsung for a fee, rather than seeking to have its products removed from shelves.

"It is almost certain that the license agreement covers at least some of the patents in suit," Samsung's lawyers wrote. "If so, this would be highly relevant, for evidence of Apple's licensing of patents-in-suit weighs against any finding that monetary relief is inadequate by demonstrating Apple's willingness to forgo exclusivity in exchange for money."

The lawyers add: "Evidence of Apple's licensing of these patents would also undermine Apple's assertion in its reply -- made only a day before announcement of the HTC license -- that its patents are unavailable for licensing to competitors."

The judge agreed, adding that Apple produce the documents for "lawyers eyes only."

But Apple's lawyers didn't take this lying down. On Friday, Apple seemed to retaliate by adding to the already sizable list of Samsung devices that it says infringes the company's patents. Now it wants the the Galaxy Note II, the Jelly Bean-based Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, the Rugby Pro and the Galaxy S III Mini. 

The two companies will be back in court on Dec. 14, according to PC Mag, but the case won't go to trial until 2014.

In the meantime, it must have been a really lovely Thanksgiving holiday for the lawyers. We're hoping they at least get Christmas off.

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