Samsung wants to take a peek inside Apple’s patent settlement with HTC

Always on the lookout to possibly improve its legal position in the ongoing stand-off with Apple, Samsung on Friday filed a court order seeking to force Apple to turn over a copy of the HTC agreement. As Cody told you, Apple and HTC settled litigation with a ten-year licensing agreement worth nearly $3 billion.

Neither company has released the specifics of the deal, leaving Samsung to wonder whether the agreement includes the famous iPhone software features that Apple successfully asserted against Samsung. You know, the stuff like rubber-band scrolling, pinch zoom and other iPhone perks…

Samsung’s bet is that if these prized patents are part of Apple’s deal with HTC, it undermines Apple’s efforts to seek ban on the sale of Samsung products on the grounds of those same patents.

Reuters has the story:

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which could face such a sales ban following a crushing jury verdict against it in August, now plans to ask a U.S. judge to force Apple to turn over a copy of the HTC agreement, according to a court filing on Friday.

Watchers think it would be very unusual if the HTC deal did not include all the patents. And by giving the ailing Android maker access to prized iPhone patents, conventional wisdom has it, Samsung would find itself in a position where as a market leader it would be unable to offer the same level of user experience as HTC, which is struggling with sales and quarterly losses.

The story notes that judges “are reluctant to block the sale of products if the dispute can be resolved via a licensing agreement”.

Apple lawyers said during the massive Apple v. Samsung trial that the iPhone maker is unwilling to license patents┬áthat cover Apple’s unique user experience, including touchscreen functionality and design.

Apple only licensed those holy patents to Microsoft, with whom it signed an anti-cloning agreement as part of the deal. One of the prized patents was also licensed to Nokia and IBM.

In opposing Apple’s injunction request last month, Samsung said Apple’s willingness to license at all shows money should be sufficient compensation, court documents show.

In a court filing last week, Apple argued that its Nokia, IBM and Microsoft deals shouldn’t stand in the way of an injunction. Microsoft’s license only covers Apple patents filed before 2002, and IBM signed several years before the iPhone launched, according to Apple.

Of course, it’s entirely plausible that Apple’s licensing agreement with HTC does not include those key patents, which could indicate that CEO Tim Cook is taking a different approach to litigation than his predecessor Steve Jobs.

Cook noted as much when he shared his view of Android litigation as a “necessary evil“.

What do you think?