updated 06:30 pm EDT, Wed July 11, 2012
Carrier files amicus brief in support of Samsung
Sprint has weighed in on the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung, claiming that carriers are adversely affected when products are banned due to patent litigation. A FOSS Patents report details Sprint's amicus filing, which makes note of the effort that both carriers and hardware manufacturers put into bringing devices to market and says sales bans hurt more than just those companies accused of infringement. In its briefing, Sprint warns that more carriers would be harmed should the sort of preliminary ban seen with the Galaxy Nexus become more commonplace.
Sprint claims that the companies involved in the Apple-Samsung dispute make no difference; it would take the same position were Apple and Samsung's positions reversed or if other companies were involved. The company's main complaint is that it and other carriers suffer collateral damage from this sort of product ban. Sprint notes that hundreds of people working for both carriers and manufacturers spend nine months to a year bringing a single device to market. An immediate preliminary injunction, Sprint argues, constitutes a substantial and irreparable harm for any carrier that has been working to roll out a device.
Google was not named in Apple's suit, but the search company's Android operating system powers the device at the center of this and several other Apple lawsuits. Also, Google developed the Galaxy Nexus in collaboration with Samsung, and a ban on the Nexus would bode ill for other Android devices.
Weighing in, Google called the patent at issue "a trivial patented aspect of a single application on the phone, with no evidence that that patented aspect influenced sales." The company concedes that the iPhone and Galaxy Nexus compete for the same customers, but claims "that does not mean the feature preferences of Galaxy Nexus buyers are the same as the feature preferences of iPhone buyers."
Verizon has also weighed in in the past on the Apple-Samsung case. Last year, following Apple's request for a preliminary ban on Samsung devices, Verizon filed an amicus brief asking that a Northern District of California court deny Apple's request. Verizon claimed that a ban on the Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE would hinder the development and rollout of its LTE-based 4G network, hurt job growth, and undercut public policy goals with regard to modernized emergency response systems.
Sales bans of the sort seen with the Galaxy Nexus have recently caught the attention of the US Congress, which is holding hearings on the antitrust implications of the patent wars. The United Nations is also looking into ways to resolve patent conflicts without resorting to sale and import bans.