Apple could lose German patent case vs. Samsung in January, gives up iPhone 4S firmware in Australia

In Australia, as part of discovery, Samsung got access to Apple’s Qualcomm baseband source code for the iPhone 4S (lookout for battery issues while you are in there Sammy!).

Other matters appeared to be resolved, including Samsung’s access to the firmware used in the iPhone 4S’ baseband chip, supplied by Qualcomm.

A software expert had approximately two hours’ access to the firmware and would submit his findings by Sunday.

According to FOSSPatents, Samsung’s lawsuits against Apple in Germany are really heating up after a Mannheim hearing set a schedule for January 20 and 27 of 2012. It looks like Apple has a tough case, as the hearing leaned towards Samsung’s claims.

The two patents asserted in today’s litigations are

  • EP1005726 on a “turbo encoding/decoding device and method for processing frame data according to QoS”, and
  • EP1114528 on an “apparatus and method for controlling a demultiplexer and a multiplexer used for rate matching in a mobile communication system”.

Samsung’s third German complaint against Apple, which wasn’t at issue today, relates to EP1188269 on an “apparatus for encoding a transformat format combination indicator for a communication system”.

Below is a full rundown of the issues discussed at today’s hearing..

The hearing mostly focused on claim construction, or interpreting key terms on which the scope of the patents depend. Apple tried to exclude it’s products by narrowing the definitions of the Samsung patents. However, the judge didn’t appear to side with the Apple’s point of view and stated that the only way to have an outcome in Apple’s favor would be by proving that Samsung’s claims were invalid for at least one of the patents.

Apple tried to justify it’s claims that the patents couldn’t be used in lawsuits as they were essential standards. However, the judge stated that Apple must first ask for a license before it can complain of abuse. The court also appeared to be indecisive towards Apple’s response that the two companies had done business for years and Samsung never mentioned patent licensing until faced with a lawsuit for supposedly copying Apple.

Apple again argued that the license may have already been paid for by it’s cellular chipset makers and that Samsung couldn’t charge again, but Samsung supposedly refused to provide details of its license deals with a pre-Intel Infineon.

The hearing wasn’t a definite verdict but it looks like there is a high possibility that Apple will be found violating at least one of the patents in the January hearings. Apple has been doing fairly well in it’s legal battles so far, bringing down Samsung’s arguments in the Netherlands, and getting Galaxy Tab bans in Germany and Australia. But Motorola did manage to win an injunction by default against Apple last week, and it appears that Samsung might do the same next year. Both sides are pushing hard to win the suits before losing money in a large market.

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