updated 12:30 pm EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Apple sees Qualcomm as key to Samsung patent exit
Apple quietly submitted an ex parte application (below) that it hoped could nullify Samsung's 3G patent countersuits. The filing would let it demand information of Qualcomm to prove that it already had the right to Samsung's 3G patents without having to pay Samsung directly. Qualcomm supplies cellular chipsets for both the CDMA iPhone 4 and every iPhone 4S and, theoretically, is already paying Samsung an amount that would exempt Apple of any cost of its own.
The company in court has already made a similar push for the GSM iPhone 4 and earlier designs, claiming that patent licenses Intel's Infineon team uses also clear Apple of paying itself. Apple has maintained that, even if it needed to pay, Samsung has been demanding excessive amounts and abusing what are supposed to be fairly priced standards patents to try and oppose Apple's own, non-standard claims.
The exact terms of Samsung's patent licensing aren't known and might have conditions that let it charge device makers even if the chips are already covered. Normally, the concept of patent exhaustion, or a limited scope, would lock Samsung out. Situations might also vary from country to country or by the company.
If completely successful, Apple could nullify much of Samsung's current defense. Combined with successful early bans, it could push Samsung into reaching a settlement rather than continuing to trial and risking an outright loss.
Samsung has vowed a more aggressive response to Apple but has't said what that would be or if it had something other than 3G patents for its own claims.
A US hearing on an Apple call for a temporary ban is due as soon as this week. [via Litigating Apple]