Patent Brawl Showdown Gangs Up on Samsung, Apple

The courts are abuzz with all the patent disputes being filed by tech companies.  The most popular players being Apple and Samsung, which is befitting since they currently dominate the market.  But there are other companies marking their territories, baring their fangs and claws to defend their market by any means necessary.

Let’s take a look at which mobile patent disputes are plaguing the courts these days.

Nokia vs. RIM

In 2003, Research in Motion and Nokia entered in a cross-licensing agreement for standards essential cellular patents.  The agreement was amended in 2008, but in 2011 RIM sought arbitration, arguing that the agreement goes beyond cellular essentials.  Which means, the Canadian company was using  Nokia patents not included in the agreement.  Of course Nokia wasn’t happy with that, and the arbitration tribunal sided with the Finnish company stating that RIM was in breach of contract.

The tribunal stated that RIM is “not entitled to manufacture or sell products compatible with the WLAN standard” until it has agreed to pay royalties to Nokia.  To enforce the arbitration handed down by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Nokia has filed cases in the US, UK and Canada.  The arbitration also declares a sales ban on the affected RIM products if they do not pay for royalties.

Ericsson vs. Samsung

Ericsson, one of the largest makers of networking infrastructure, filed a case against Samsung for allegedly infringing their mobile technology patents after failing to agree on a licensing agreement.

According to Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson’s chief intellectual-property officer, the South Korean company refused to renew their licensing agreement, which covered “hundreds” of Ericsson’s patented innovations within several wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi and fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution technology.

“We have more than 100 cross-licensing agreements with various companies in the telecom industry. All the large consumer-electronics companies apart from Samsung have signed licensing agreements with us,” Alfalahi said.

Samsung claims in a statement that they’ve “faithfully committed” themselves into “conducting fair and reasonable negotiations with Ericsson” but the company have demanded higher royalty rates in order to renew the said patent portfolio.

“As we cannot accept such extreme demands, we will take all necessary legal measures to protect against Ericsson’s excessive claims,” Samsung stated.

Samsung signed two large cross-licensing agreements with Ericsson in 2001 and in 2007 but the latest agreement expired last year and two years of negotiations failed to reach an amicable deal.  According to Alfalahi, the lawsuit was their last resort.

Apple vs. Samsung

The Court of Hague in the Netherlands has banned three Samsung devices from being sold in Europe for infringing Apple’s “Portable Electronic Device for Photo Management” patent.  More specifically, the way to scroll through a photo gallery using finger gestures on a touchscreen.

The culprit behind the infringement lies in the Android 2.3 version used in the said devices.  A sales ban had already been imposed on the said devices last year, but during the hearing for the case, Samsung stated that they’ve already altered their photo viewing technology.  But that argument only upset the panel of judges hearing the case last September, as they failed to provide evidence of the changes they made.

“The argument raised by Samsung at the hearing that Samsung Benelux does not sell the infringing products any more, cannot lead to a rejection of the ban,” wrote judge Peter Blok, who presided over the panel of three judges in the verdict. Blok said he would grant the ban because Samsung refused to sign a declaration of abstinence committing to not infringing the patent.

Samsung was also ordered to tell Apple how much they made with the infringing devices since June 2011, and from there the court will determine how much Samsung would be paying Apple.  The court ruled that if Samsung doesn’t stop infringing Apple’s patent, they’ll have to cough up 100,000 euros (US$129,000) for every day it violates the ban.

Stateside, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal allowed Apple and Samsung to add devices to their existing patent infringement claims against one another.  Samsung added the iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPod Touch 5th gen, and the iPad 4th gen while Apple added  the Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy S III running the new Android “Jelly Bean” mobile OS, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 WiFi, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, the Samsung Rugby Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini.  Apple also wanted to add the Android Jelly Bean to their filing but the judge ruled against it since Android is a product of Google, not Samsung.