Apple has to disclose details of its patent-sharing agreement with HTC to its rival Samsung, a US court has ordered today. Earlier this month Apple and HTC reached a deal “that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement” and which covers current and future patents owned by both companies. The details were not disclosed however.
Samsung, which is involved in a legal battle over patents in several countries around the globe, asked the court to order Apple to share these agreement details. The company is “almost certain” that some of the patents covered by the Apple-HTC deal are also involved in its dispute with Apple.
The ruling issued states that information has to be made available immediately, but for “attorneys’ eyes only”.
“It is clearly a very smart move from Samsung – because the general feeling is that a lot of its patent disputes with Apple are very likely to be similar to those between HTC and Apple,” said Andrew Milroy of consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
“And if there are similarities, it gives Samsung an advantage in any future legal issues and negotiations with Apple.”
Apple won USD1.05bn in damages from Samsung in a lawsuit this year.
“Apple has been having a really bad time of late in its legal battles,” said Mr Milroy. “They are going to have to re-examine the legal approach they take from here on.”
The patents battle is one that from some points of view has gone too far. The simplest moves become patent subjects (like sliding) and some of the most common options – like turning pages – got patented. As HTC and Apple have managed to reach an agreement after a long battle, which will be the conclusion of the Samsung-Apple legal fight?