U.S. Court To Apple: Reveal HTC Settlement to Samsung

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 23, 2012

The legal mess between Apple and Samsung won’t be ending anytime soon. After locking horns in America, the two technology giants took their fight to Europe and Asia. While Apple prevailed in America and Europe, Samsung won crucial rulings in Japan. Therefore, it was no surprise when Apple reduced orders for memory chips from Samsung Electronics and is actively seeking out other supply lines.

The Apple-Samsung rivalry is now back in the limelight after HTC capitulated to Apple’s legal pressure, forced yet again to sign a licensing deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum in order to settle its ongoing patent dispute. One positive—for Apple fans and those sick of patent wars—in all of this, some analysts predicted, is that HTC’s loss might finally persuade Samsung to follow suit, finally settling its global patent war with Apple.

In a significant turn of events yesterday, Apple has been told by a U.S. federal judge to disclose to rival Samsung the licensing terms of a settlement it made with Taiwanese hardware maker HTC. Samsung appealed to the court stating that it was “almost certain” the deal covered some of the patents at the centre of its dispute with Apple.

It would be interesting to see how Apple responds but one thing is for sure – this might just take the Apple-Samsung dog fight to unprecedented new heights.

Experts say the patents that are covered by the Apple-HTC settlement, and licensing details, could be pivotal in Samsung’s efforts to thwart Apple’s subsequent quest for a permanent sales ban on its products. The court has ordered Apple to produce a full copy of the settlement agreement “without delay”, subject to an Attorneys-Eyes-Only designation. Samsung has already received the court blessings to include the new iPhone 5 in its patent-infringement claims but it now wants more – including the new iPad Mini, the iPad 4, the iPod Touch 5 and three earlier versions of the iPod Touch.

Given the growing bad blood with Samsung, Apple has been cutting back orders with respect to the new iPhone line, however, and sources have said that the company is looking to drop the South Korean company entirely from producing memory chips for their products. Instead, Apple has been looking to Toshiba, Elpida Memory and SK Hynix to supply NAND and DRAM chips.

On the other hand, experts say that while Apple may be diversifying some components of its iPhone supply chain this time around, the key supply chain between Samsung and Apple remains unbroken and as strong as ever – at least for now. The world of business is a funny place, where companies can sue the pants off each other in courts around the world but still maintain an absolutely vital supply chain relationship when it counts.

As for HTC, it couldn’t be worse – the once strong Android partner is fast slipping into irrelevance in the North American market and any hopes of a quick recovery have been dashed by patent settlements with Apple and Microsoft.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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