Qualcomm ordered to hand over documents that might help Apple stave off Samsung patent attack

Mon, Oct 17, 2011

Legal, News

Apple last week was on quite a tear with respect to its worldwide efforts to get Samsung to stop infringing upon its patents. In addition to Apple winning an injunction preventing Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, a Dutch Court also rejected Samsung’s bid to attain an injunction against Apple’s iPad and iPhone.

As we anticipated, the Dutch Court’s ruling was based on the fact that Samsung’s patents at issue are part of established technological standards which requires Samsung to license them out, even to competitors, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The Court noted that Samsung’s efforts to achieve an injunction without first having made a good faith effort to secure fair licensing terms constituted an abuse of its rights. Consequently, the Court said that the two companies must continue negotiating in the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable compromise.

All in all, Samsung’s entire litigation strategy regarding its efforts to countersue Apple into a settlement seem to revolve around patents encumbered by RAND obligations. Further, Samsung is asserting patents that Apple may already have a de-facto license to.

To that end, Apple’s ongoing litigation with Samsung in the Northern District of California recently saw a decision in its favor when the Judge in that case ruled that Qualcomm has to hand over documents to Apple which may help it defend itself against Samsung’s patent claims.

FOSS Patents notes:

Apple wants those documents in order to prove that Qualcomm is licensed to Samsung’s patents, and since the iPhone 4S and some other Apple products use a Qualcomm chip for their baseband functionality, this would provide Apple with a patent exhaustion argument: even if Samsung could prove that the patents are valid and infringed, it couldn’t “double-dip” since Qualcomm already pays it.

Qualcomm could still try to “quash” this, but I doubt that Qualcomm is opposed to providing this material. I guess Qualcomm just needed Apple to obtain a court order so that Qualcomm could provide its contract with Samsung in spite of confidentiality obligations.

Apple will use the requested documents “in Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Australia”.

While it remains to be seen what Samsung’s licensing agreements with Qualcomm means for Apple, the fact that Samsung vehemently opposed Apple’s request for said documents tends to suggest that Apple has, once again, the upper hand here.

Fleshing out Apple’s interest in the documents, their initial request for the documents read:


All documents that grant or granted, or purport or purported to grant, to Qualcomm any rights, protections, or licenses in or to any Samsung IPR — including without limitation Samsung Wireless IPR, regardless of whether it is Essential Wireless IPR — that provide or provided a covenant not to sue relating to any Samsung IPR, or that otherwise authorize or authorized Qualcomm to practice any Samsung IPR, including, but not limited to, all agreements, amendments, appendices, attachments, schedules, and addendums.


For each document produced in response to Request No. 1, all non-privileged Communications with Samsung relating to that document, including Communications regarding the negotiation of the document and any Communications regarding any efforts to terminate any rights, protections, licenses, covenants not to sue, or other authorization provided by the document.

So perhaps Apple has inherited the rights associated with Qualcomm’s licensing agreements with Samsung. We’ll find out soon enough. Either way, this is certainly getting interesting.



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