A U.S. court has ordered Apple to provide Samsung with details of a licensing deal it reached with HTC earlier this month, as part of ongoing patent battles between Cupertino and the Korean mobile maker. Apple and HTC settled their remaining lawsuits on November 10, agreeing a 10-year licensing deal — the terms of which have not been publicly disclosed, although, on Tuesday, HTC CEO Peter Chou rebutted an analyst’s assessment that it’s paying Apple between $6-$8 per handset, describing that as an “outrageous number”.
Reuters reports that Samsung had earlier filed a motion to compel Apple to reveal details of the settlement with HTC. Late yesterday the U.S. District Court of Northern California Magistrate Judge Paul S Grewal ordered Apple to disclose the entire settlement, including the licensing fees, to Samsung’s lawyers. The Foss Patents blog notes that this will not mean Samsung’s “corporate decision-makers” gain access to the rate “as long as the court’s protective order is complied with”, as the order specifically refers to Samsung’s counsel.
A public version of the Apple-HTC licensing agreement obtained by Foss Patents on Wednesday was heavily redacted — with more than 90 percent of the cotent blacked out. It does reveal the agreement would terminate if HTC was bought by another company.
Samsung will be hoping the Apple-HTC licensing deal provides it with information it can use as a shield against a permanent sales ban being sought by Apple against its products. In August Apple was awarded $1.049 billion in damages against Samsung after a jury found that certain Samsung products infringe some of Apple’s design and software patents. Reuters notes that Samsung has argued it is “almost certain” the Apple-HTC agreement covers some of the same patents involved in the litigation between Apple and Samsung.
According to the Foss Patents blog, “willingness to license certain patents can play a role in an injunctive relief analysis” — although, even if the same patents are involved, the impact on any future injunction is far from certain. “U.S. courts understand pretty well that a simple rule according to which injunctions are much less likely to be available based on patents that have been licensed would discourage settlements and license deals,” the blog notes.
“But Samsung’s legal team at least has a duty to try to get some mileage out of the Apple-HTC deal. Avoiding an injunction is Samsung’s #1 priority for the December 6 hearing, with all other objectives following at quite a distance. Some of the other issues are actually just about preserving the record for an appeal.”
We’ve reached out to Apple and Samsung for comment on this latest development and will update this story with any response. Update: Apple declined to comment.