Apple, Samsung Adjust Positions in German Patent Court

Two hearings were held today in the patent court in Mannheim, Germany regarding cases between Apple and Samsung. In the first, Samsung added two new lawsuits, one regarding communication technologies and the other covering converting data for speech output and emoticon inputs. The second hearing had Samsung pulling back on it’s 3G infringement assertions against products with Qualcomm chips, which in Apple’s case is the iPhone 4S.

Apple vs. Samsung (in Germany)

According to Foss Patents, with regards to the first hearing, Samsung filed complaints against Apple with this court in April regarding six patents. Initially, Samsung wanted to add an “extension” to those suits to cover the new issues. Apple however, was granted a motion to sever those extensions and so, today, Samsung filed two new suits to deal with the disputed patents.

The two suits are split between FRAND-pledged declared essential patents (the first two) and non standards-related (the last two). The patents in question are:

  • EP1720373 on a “method and apparatus for reporting inter-frequency measurement using RACH message in a communication system”
  • EP1679803 on a “method for configuring gain factors for uplink service in radio telecommunication system”
  • DE10040386 on a “speech output device for data displayed on mobile telephone converts data from display into speech data for output via loudspeaker”
  • EP1215867 on an “emoticon input method for mobile terminal”

Samsung also brought on two new law firms to help with their efforts: Quinn Emanuel and Krieger Mes & Graf von der Groeben. Quinn Emanuel, also known as QE, is helping Motorola sue Apple and Microsoft in the same German court, and is involved with Samsung against Apple in the United States. Kreiger Mes & Graf von der Groeben has a reputation as a first-rate IP firm.

The second hearing saw Samsung “clarifying” its claim against Apple regarding 3G patents. It now wished to exclude Apple products with a Qualcomm chip. (The iPhone 4S uses a Qualcomm chip.) Apple’s lawyers saw this as a voluntary partial dismissal of the case and wanted Samsung to pay the costs as dictated by German law.

Samsung claimed the change was an attempt at streamlining. But it is clearly a defensive move, probably in response to decision in a French court last week denying Samsung an injunction against the iPhone 4S. That court recognized the license agreement between Samsung and Qualcomm for the chip and the same licensing would cover Apple as a customer of Qualcomm.

The struggles between Apple and Samsung in this German court, as well as others, go beyond those detailed here. No doubt there will be many additional developments before the disputes are laid to rest. It is expected that Apple may bring more patent infringement suits in Germany against Samsung, as well as HTC and Motorola, in response to today’s events.