Skip to main content

Apple ordered to share details of HTC licensing agreement with Samsung

A US judge has granted Samsung's request for Apple to disclose details of a patent licensing deal recently struck with HTC.

Last week, HTC and Apple announced that they had settled a long running patent dispute that began in 2010. It was widely reported that the two firms had signed a 10-year licensing agreement which Samsung claims covers some of the patents under dispute in its own case with Apple.

The court ordered Apple to produce a full copy of the settlement agreement "without delay" for "attorneys' eyes only" so it will not be made public.

This is the latest development in the patent war between Apple and Samsung that shows no sign of abating. It has hit the headlines in recent years due to increasingly embittered lawsuits across the world.

The tipping point came earlier this year when a jury in the US found Samsung had improperly violated patented technology in the iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple $1.05 billion (£653 million) in damages. Apple has subsequently urged the court to order a sales ban on Samsung products that violate the patents.

However, the South Korean firm has appealed against the ruling, calling for a retrial. The company argues that the licensing agreement with HTC will show that Apple clearly doesn't mind its competitors violating patents, as long it receives money in return- and since Apple has already been awarded a large amount of money in damages, requesting a sales ban is not justified.

"It is clearly a very smart move from Samsung - because the general feeling is that a lot of its patent disputes with Apple are very likely to be similar to those between HTC and Apple," Andrew Milroy of consultancy Frost & Sullivan told the BBC.

"And if there are similarities, it gives Samsung an advantage in any future legal issues and negotiations with Apple," he added.

The hearing on the sales ban is scheduled for 6 December.