Samsung Patent Ruling Appeal: It's Not About the iPhone

Samsung's fight to block iPhone sales in the United States isn't dead yet, despite a veto on the ban from President Barak Obama. The electronics maker filed an appeal in July in hopes of overturning an ITC ruling that dropped three other patents from its case, and if it wins that appeal, the fight to block iPhone 4 sales will be back on -- a fight that's mostly symbolic at this point, but could have a big impact on Samsung's future patent infringement lawsuit strategies.

Samsung is appealing an ITC ruling in hopes of leveraging its SEP technology in courtSamsung is appealing an ITC ruling in hopes of leveraging its SEP technology in court

Samsung had won an International Trade Commission import ban on some iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models that was set to go into effect on Sunday, August 4. That ban was overturned, however, by the White House a day ahead of the deadline over concerns that patents considered standards essential were being used to strong arm companies into paying higher licensing fees.

From Apple's perspective, Samsung is pushing for mobile device patent licensing fees that are too high and is using standards essential patents (SEP) it owns to do that. Those patents cover technologies necessary for smartphones which makes them important not just for the iPhone, but for smartphones from other companies, too.

From Samsung's perspective, Apple is balking at paying fair licensing fees.

The bigger issue here isn't whether or not Apple is paying enough to license Samsung's SEP technology for the iPhone, but how companies can leverage SEP in patent infringement fights. Samsung sees the President's veto ban as a sign it can't effectively protect its intellectual property, and that's really what the company wants to control, not whether Apple can sell a three year old smartphone that's about to drop off the market.

Since Samsung can't take on the President's veto directly, it's going back to the ITC ruling that dropped three other patents from the case. If the company can get that ruling overturned, it can try again for a product ban which ultimately will strengthen its ability to effectively use SEP in future patent infringement cases.

It's not so much about stopping sales of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. It's about the infringement lawsuits Samsung files in the future, and what role its standards essential patents will play.