Samsung has asked a district court in The Netherlands for an injunction on all of Apple’s products that utilize a 3G wireless connection banning them from being imported into the country on the basis that they violate four patents owned by Samsung. In an interesting twist in the growing patent war between the two companies, the four patents involved in the suit have all been deemed “essential patents”. That Samsung is required to license to any and all comers under so-called FRAND terms.
FRAND stands for fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, and what it means is that Samsung must license these patents under terms that aren’t under the company’s control. FRAND patents effectively cover technologies that have been adopted as standards, and in some cases, there are standards literally built around a patent that has been cleared essential
Samsung owns at least four such patents, and in that they are essential 3G patents, Apple’s 3G-enabled products likely violate those patents by definition, unless they have been licensed from Samsung under FRAND terms.
In that Samsung is claiming Apple is infringing on these patents, odds are that the two companies don’t have a licensing deal, but the question will be “Why?” Did Apple refuse Samsung’s FRAND licensing terms or did Samsung refuse to license those patents, or as Nokia attempted, did Samsung demand unreasonable licensing terms?
Noted patent commentator Florian Mueller told weberwereld.com, ““Should it turn out that Apple entered the market without taking licenses to essential patents, then that’s indefensible and Apple should pay. However, it doesn’t justify an abuse of standards-essential patents. Asking for an injunction is an abuse unless the request for the injunction is limited to the scenario in which the defendant doesn’t accept to pay FRAND royalties.”
This appears to be what Apple wants addressed, because although Samsung has issued a separate lawsuit for each patent, Apple has asked the courts to determine the FRAND-related issues in a separate hearing before any other hearings take place.The court has agreed to this, and that could resent a speedy conclusion of the newest salvo between the two companies.
Samsung is seeking an injunction on Apple’s 3Gs and iPone 4, as well as iPad and iPad 2 (with Wifi). The next court date set for Monday, September 26th.