Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Samsung asserts eight more patents against Apple in California, including two FRAND patents

There's further escalation between Apple and Samsung.

In February, Apple brought a new U.S. federal lawsuit against Samsung, the second of its kind in the Northern District of California. Late on Wednesday by local time, Samsung brought its answer to the complaint as well as infringement counterclaims over eight patents.

Two of those patents are FRAND-pledged patents that Samsung declared essential to ETSI standards. Five of the patents (including the two FRAND patents) were originally applied for by Samsung, while three others were acquired (one from Hitachi, one from a group of three inventors). Also, Samsung's complaint states for two of the patents that Apple was shown "detailed explanation[s]" of infringement (presumably that means claim charts) in October 2010. One of those two patents was previously asserted against Apple but then withdrawn from the first California litigation between these companies.

It comes as no surprise that Samsung retaliated with infringement claims. Samsung owns roughly 30,000 U.S. patents. It has from the outset of its dispute with Apple demonstrated its belief that a good offense is the best defense. So far, none of Samsung's infringement claims against Apple has succeeded anywhere on Earth, despite efforts in nine different countries, but Samsung keeps on fighting.

I'm not sure, however, that it's a good idea for Samsung to ratchet up its assertions of allegedly standard-essential patents, given the European Commission's ongoing antitrust investigation. This conduct certainly appears unrepentant.

Apple's and Samsung's CEOs and chief in-house lawyers just agreed to meet for court-moderated settlement talks within 90 days. Those talks were ordered by the same federal judge, Judge Lucy Koh, who is also presiding over this second litigation between the number one and the number two in the handset industry.

Here's the list of patents along with information for the products accused of infringement of each patent, as well as information on FRAND commitments, prior infringement notices or the original owners:

  1. U.S. Patent No. 7,756,087 on a "method and apparatus for performing non-scheduled transmission in a mobile communication system for supporting an enhanced uplink data channel"

    accused products: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and New iPad

    declaration of standard-essentiality to ETSI in May 2006

    presentation of claim charts to Apple in October 2010

  2. U.S. Patent No. 7,551,596 on a "method and apparatus for signaling control information of uplink packet data service in mobile communication system"

    accused products: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and New iPad

    declaration of standard-essentiality to ETSI in May 2010

  3. U.S. Patent No. 7,672,470 on an "audio/video device having a volume control function for an external audio reproduction unit by using volume control buttons of a remote controller and volume control method therefor"

    accused products: all iPhones, all iPads, and all iPod touches

  4. U.S. Patent No. 7,577,757 on a "multimedia synchronization method and device"

    accused products and services: all iPhones, all iPads, all iPods, all Apple computers, Apple TV, iCloud, and iTunes

    acquired from ReQuest in September 2011

  5. U.S. Patent No. 7,232,058 on a "data displaying apparatus and method"

    accused products: all iPads

  6. U.S. Patent No. 6,292,179 on a "software keyboard system using trace of stylus on a touch screen and method for recognizing key code using the same"

    accused products: all iPhones, all iPads, and iPod touches

    dropped from Samsung's counterclaims in the first California litigation in July 2011 (to be precise, Samsung converted a separate countersuit into counterclaims, and in that process left a couple of patents behind)

    presentation of claim charts to Apple in October 2010

  7. U.S. Patent No. 6,226,449 on an "apparatus for recording and reproducing digital image and speech"

    accused products: all iPhones, all iPads, iPod touches, and Apple computers

    acquired from Hitachi in August 2011

  8. U.S. Patent No. 5,579,239 on a "remote video transmission system"

    accused products: all iPhones, and all 3G iPads with cameras

    acquired from a group of three inventors in October 2011

The bottom line: the biggest patent fight ever in the wireless devices industry (litigation in nine countries, plus defensive actions in a tenth) just got bigger.

By the way, there will be a couple of Apple v. Samsung "events" at the Mannheim Regional Court on Friday. I will, of course, attend those and report.

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