In the latest lawsuit drama flying between Samsung and Apple in Australia, Samsung is demanding to see Apple’s iPhone 4S source code and its agreements with carriers to determine whether Apple is in violation of Samsung patents.
This is the latest in a series of patent disputes between Apple and Samsung, both in Australia and around the world. Apple has accused Samsung of “slavishly copying” its iPad and iPhone designs, saying that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy S II smartphone rip off the “look and feel” of Apple’s products. That argument has resulted in a temporary injunction against Samsung in Australia, banning the sale of the Galaxy Tab until after a hearing set to take place later this week.
Samsung has since taken the gloves off, however, and is responding in kind with attempts to get Apple’s newly released iPhone 4S banned in Australia (as well as other countries). The patents at issue on Samsung’s side have to do with its wireless 3G technology, according to a story from Australian site Smart Office. There are three patents that Samsung claims Apple has violated, but the company says it needs to see Apple’s source code to be sure.
Of course, Apple doesn’t want to divulge that information to Samsung, its biggest worldwide rival in smartphone manufacturing. Samsung is currently the biggest seller of smartphones in the world, having sold 27.1 million devices during the quarter covering the three months ending at the close of September. During that time, Apple sold only 17.1 million iPhones, allowing Samsung to pass it for the first time since the iPhone went on sale.
Samsung also wants to see Apple’s carrier agreements to find out what subsidies are being paid to Apple by telecom companies in order to have the right to sell the iPhone on contract. The argument there is that Apple subsidies take away from carriers’ abilities to sell other smartphones by demanding these high subsidies, which makes it harder for the carriers to pay subsidies for other phones, and therefore they can offer fewer of them.
Apple isn’t without legal arguments in its defense, though. For one, it argues that it already pays licensing fees on the three patents in question, although Samsung says those international licenses might not extend to Australia and that Apple refused to re-license them in the country. Another argument Apple makes is that the use of a Qualcomm chip in the iPhone 4S and the licenses that go with it already provide it the patent licenses it needs from Samsung, automatically. And while Apple was successful in getting an injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, Apple argues it’s a little late for the court to set an injunction against the iPhone 4S since it has been out for a few weeks. “The horse has already bolted,” Apple argued.
The judge in both Samsung’s patent case and Apple’s case is the same – Judge Annabel Bennett. It might be a bit before we find out what she decides is the fate of Apple and Samsung in Australia, but the case continues on Nov. 4.