The world’s leading cell phone and smartphone maker wasn’t kidding when it promised to sue Apple as soon as the iPhone 5 comes out over an alleged breach of its wireless patents related to the fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) radio technology.
This morning, unnamed Samsung executives told a Samsung-friendly publication that the Galaxy maker will target Apple’s key markets in Europe and even the U.S., Apple’s home-turf. With Apple struggling to invalidate HTC’s two LTE-related patents in another suit, perhaps Samsung has a shot at disrupting the iPhone 5 launch?
A senior Samsung executive who is “directly involved with the matter” told Kim Yoo-chul of The Korea Times in a phone interview Monday morning that the South Korean conglomerate will sue the next iPhone over 4G LTE wireless patents the second it hits store shelves:
It’s true that Samsung Electronics has decided to take immediate legal action against the Cupertino-based Apple. Countries in Europe and even the United States ― Apple’s home-turf ― are our primary targets.
The story is an extension of a similar report published on August 30.
Interestingly, an SK Telecom official informally confirmed news that talks with Apple regarding the next iPhone and its support for SK-specific LTE frequencies “ended with a good result”. The source confirmed that SK will in fact “offer the much speedier new iPhone to our customers”.
You’re probably wondering why bother, right?
I mean, Samsung just lost a high-profile U.S. suit, with over a billion dollars in damages awarded to Apple and the jury ruling that Cupertino violated none of Samsung’s patents while rejecting every one of Samsung’s instances to invalidate Apple’s patented technology.
But it only takes one bullet to kill.
Apple only has one smartphone family – the iPhone – and if anyone manages to provide in litigation that Apple’s devices infringe on other people’s patents, door will open to a sales ban which could have devastating consequences to Apple’s fortunes.
Apple is now basically an iPhone company and any disruption to the iPhone biz will spook investors and hurt price of its shares, not to mention a huge drop in revenues and earnings.
That’s why Samsung is launching new suits despite losing the big one in the U.S. The ruling increases likelihood of a possible U.S. ban of iPhone and iPad devices
Samsung has by some estimates 12.2 percent of the world’s 4G LTE portfolio of patents. However, many of these are said to be standard-essential patents so Samsung will faces an uphill struggle convincing the court that Apple infringes upon technology that is essential to the mobile industry.
Another Samsung executive commented:
Apple claimed the existing 3G-related patents are standard essential patents (SEPs) according to our earlier commitment to the FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms. But the story is totally different when you talk about LTE patents. These are new and highly-valued,’’ said another Samsung executive.
Last Thursday, a judge said Apple may struggle to invalidate HTC’s two LTE-related patents, increasing the likelihood of a possible sales ban on the iPhone and iPad devices in the U.S. HTC’s victory could have positive effects on Samsung’s legal attack on the iPhone 5.
However, let’s not forget that the next iPhone is believed to feature LTE networking by way of a Qualcomm chip and Qualcomm has licensed 3G/4G technology from patent holders.
That being said, it’ll be interesting seeing how Samsung wiggles its way out of this one.
Though Samsung never won a clean victory in any of the cases spread across ten countries around the world, perhaps they’re hoping a high-profile suit against the iPhone 5 may disrupt sales and divert some of the pent up demand in its direction?
Note: the above image is just an artist’s rendition of what the next iPhone might look like, based on rumor-mill reports.