About two weeks ago, Samsung petitioned the United States District Court for the Southern District of Calfornia to grant access to certain contracts and correspondence between Apple and Qualcomm in order to show those documents to foreign courts. You can find further detail on this request and its potential significance in the blog post I just linked to.
For an update, the court yesterday granted Samsung's motion. Before the court decision became known, a Samsung official stressed, in a conversation with the Korea Times, the importance of this discovery request.
On January 20, 2012, Samsung had amended the motion, and its proposed order, which the court ultimately signed, stated that Apple didn't oppose the motion.
The amended motion included, in addition to a request for certain business documents, a request for "a specific portion of the source code related to ETSI 3GPP Technical Specification (section 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 of TS 25.322 V6.9.0) and used in Qualcomm's chipsets that were incorporated into the iPhone 4S", claiming that "[t]his source code is critical for Samsung to prove its infringement claim against Apple in the Apple/Samsung Litigation". Patent exhaustion can indeed depend on technical details.
The court order notes that Qualcomm could still bring a motion to quash this discovery request. It didn't do so in connection with Apple's request for access to the Qualcomm-Samsung patent cross-licensing agreement, but Samsung's request is different in some ways, so it can't be ruled out that Qualcomm might oppose this discovery order in whole or in part. The court believes that there are no signs of this being a "fishing expedition" or "intended to be a vehicle for harassment". Otherwise, I believe, Apple would have raised an objection.
If you'd like to be updated on the smartphone patent disputes and other intellectual property matters I cover, please subscribe to my RSS feed (in the right-hand column) and/or follow me on Twitter @FOSSpatents and Google+.
Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: