updated 08:15 am EST, Fri November 18, 2011
French court to judge if Samsung blocks Apple soon
France's Tribunal de Grande Instance decided Thursday that it would rule on Samsung's request for a local preliminary ban on the iPhone 4S on December 8. Samsung as expected argued that Apple's newer hardware violated its three 3G patents, but faced an increased defense from Apple. The American firm not only claimed Samsung was abusing standards-based patents but pointed to the European Commission's investigation of Samsung, claiming that its attempt to sue across Europe had been "so violent" that the EC had felt compelled to start an inquiry.
Apple went on to also use a familiar defense of patent exhaustion, arguing that licenses were covered by buying the Qualcomm 3G chipset and that Samsung couldn't charge twice. The firm showed its license agreement with Qualcomm at the hearing, although it's not evident whether the court agreed. In a jab at Samsung's using 3G patents only in a countersuit, it noted that the iPhone had technical compatibility with the UMTS portion of the 3G standard since 2007, showing that Samsung hadn't actually been concerned about getting royalties.
"Samsung can't pretend that it discovered this today," an Apple attorney said.
Samsung tried to keep the case direct, arguing that it was "just a problem of royalties." The company confirmed that, like in the Netherlands, it wanted 2.4 percent from each device, but insisted that the rate wouldn't stop Apple from selling iPhones.
While the court's verdict is still uncertain, the tone from the proceedings suggested Apple had a significant chance not just of denying the preliminary ban but possibly having Samsung's complaint dismissed. If so, it would follow a Dutch dismissal and leave the German dispute as one of the few if not only 3G patent claims that ruled against Apple. [via Le Monde and Florian Mueller]