Samsung seeks copy of Apple-HTC patent deal

Samsung said the agreement with HTC could show that Apple is willing to forego exclusivity in exchange for money

Samsung Electronics asked a court in California to compel Apple to produce a copy of its settlement and patent license agreement with HTC, claiming the document is relevant to its own patent dispute with Apple.

Apple's willingness to license patents in the suit may undermine its claim of irreparable harm and demonstrate that monetary remedies are adequate, Samsung said in a filing on Friday.

HTC and Apple said earlier this month that they had settled all their outstanding patent disputes in a settlement that includes a 10-year agreement under which the companies will license current and future patents from each other. The terms of the settlement were kept confidential and not disclosed.

Apple has sought injunctions on the sale of a number of Samsung products for alleged infringement of its patents. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh of the District Court for Northern California, San Jose division has scheduled a hearing in December to decide on Apple's plea for a permanent injunction on sales of some Samsung phones.

In August, a jury decided that Samsung must pay Apple US$1.05 billion for infringing several of its patents in Samsung smartphones and tablets. Samsung has, however, asked for a new trial of the case, alleging that the foreman of the jury did not disclose certain relevant information in the voir dire, a court procedure of questioning prospective jurors for potential bias. Samsung's motion will also be heard in December.

The license agreement between Apple and HTC almost certainly covers at least some of the patents in suit, including the '915 and '381 patents on which Apple seeks a permanent injunction in this case, Samsung said in the filing. U.S. Patent no. 7,844,915 refers to application programming interfaces for scrolling operations, while patent no. 7,469,381 refers to "List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touchscreen display."

Evidence of Apple's licensing of these patents would undermine Apple's assertion in its reply, made only a day before announcement of the HTC license, that its patents are unavailable for licensing to competitors, Samsung said. Apple's licensing of the patents-in-suit would also demonstrate its willingness to "forego exclusivity in exchange for money," it added. Samsung has asked that a copy of the agreement should be made available by Nov. 27.

Samsung told the court that Apple had told the South Korean company that it intends to produce the HTC agreement, but must give HTC 10 business days' notice pursuant to the terms of the license agreement.

Apple, however, refused to enter into a binding stipulation confirming that it will produce the license agreement, stating that HTC may object to the production, Samsung said in the filing, while arguing that an objection from HTC could not be a ground for withholding the document.

Apple and HTC could not be immediately reached for comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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