updated 05:10 pm EDT, Tue August 30, 2011
Apple fights Samsung on patent terms in lawsuit
Apple in a response to Samsung's countersuit late Monday accused the Korean company of abusing its stance on patent licensing terms. The firm accused Samsung of "serial standard-setting abuses" by illegally getting monopoly status in fields where its patents are billed as essential to the technology and promptly 'tricking' standards bodies by hiding its requirements around Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms, letting it abuse its claims against others. Apple contended that Samsung's lawsuit was an "anticompetitive ambush" and was exploiting this to try and make Apple drop its self-proclaimed legitimate anti-copying complaints.
"Samsung has engaged in a relentless campaign of illegal and abusive assertions of its declared-essential patents to try to coerce Apple into tolerating Samsung's continuing imitation of [the iPad and iPhone]," Apple attorneys insisted.
The allegations maintained that Samsung had sued Apple first and only afterwards made a FRAND offer. If so, Samsung wouldn't have made a good faith offer before turning to the courts, Apple said. It further accused Samsung of hypocrisy, making the very same complaints of hidden FRAND terms against Ericsson, InterDigital, and Rambus. Nokia may have control over supposed 3G technology patent ownership, but it and Apple both agree that negotiations had been underway.
A more contentious claim pointed to Apple's countersuit against Motorola, where the iPhone maker implied that Motorola had become a "gatekeeper" by helping make standards that it knew related directly to its own patents. A court statement touching on these had acknowledge Apple's implied allegations of monopoly but didn't actually confirm Apple's point of view. Motorola's own lawsuit is using seven patents it has attached to industry standards.
Apple has clear motivations in trying to accuse Samsung of standards abuse by dropping the lawsuit. Samsung had previously moved to try and dismiss Apple's opposing claims by insisting that it was putting all the onus on Samsung and not talking about the patents themselves. Apple could simply make any defenses in the regular case without resorting to an attempt to declare Samsung's patent claims invalid, Samsung said.
The strength of Apple's argument will depend on whether the court believes accusations of monopolistic behavior can both be handled by the court and are relevant to the case. If it won, however, it would leave Samsung virtually no choice but to settle with no ongoing countersuit, multiple Apple preliminary ban wins in Europe, and a sped-up trial date for Apple's initial lawsuit. Although some companies will pursue such cases to the end, many prefer to settle rather than risk bans on some of their products. [via Florian Mueller]