Are Samsung’s new patent threats an offer to cross-license with Apple?


Samsung may have been “reeling” from last Friday’s verdict in its patent trial with Apple(s AAPL), but it looks like it’s regained its footing and looking for the next strategy. In a Korea Times article posted Wednesday, Samsung is threatening to fight back with another patent-related lawsuit of its own against Apple, this time over LTE patents. Samsung’s threat could be bluster, but it could also be a subtle call for a cross-licensing patent deal with Apple.

While Samsung spectacularly lost the patent fight over smartphone design and features, it still possesses the strongest patent portfolio in tech when it comes to mobile infrastructure IP. Even as it vows to challenge last week’s $1.05 billion jury verdict, the company is also brandishing a set of patents it could assert against Apple. According to the Korea Times:

Samsung confirmed that it will immediately sue Apple if the latter releases products using advanced long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology. LTE has been emerging as the top standard in the global mobile industry.

Apple does not currently make any LTE-capable iPhones — though that is very likely to change in about a month or so when the new iPhone is likely to be released. Apple does, however, already make an LTE-capable device: the newest iPad, which comes with the option to add AT&T or Verizon 4G wireless service.

So why the sudden threat now, when Apple already has an LTE iPad? Samsung has one of the strongest patent portfolios when it comes to mobile. It owns more mobile communications patents in the U.S. and Europe combined than anyone. When it comes to mobile infrastructure in particular, Samsung is also the leader in patents, according to Chetan Sharma Consulting. What’s not clear is how powerful its LTE patent trove is.

It could be that Samsung is fishing around for a cross-licensing deal with Apple. In other words: instead of continuing the long and expensive appeals battle with Apple and risking having its devices possibly banned from the U.S. (and potentially having to pay triple the $1.05 billion damages for willful infringement), Samsung could try to coerce Apple into a truce. This would involve offering to license LTE patents to Apple while Samsung in turn would agree to license some of Apple’s patents covering the iPhone and iPad.

Cross-licensing is a fairly common way to end patent disputes — Apple has such a deal with Microsoft; Facebook and Yahoo signed one recently. It wasn’t one that Samsung was interested in before the trial; Apple already offered Samsung a cross-licensing deal before the current suit was ever filed, but Samsung did not agree to the (very pricey) terms. But now? It has a billion reasons — and perhaps a little leverage with a possible LTE iPhone — to consider one now.



I read somewhere today that Apple has been acquiring non FRAND LTE patents. True?


Yeah those greedy Apple bastards.

Samsung phones are made by little elfs for the good of mankind.


I think you’re missing an important point. This threat from Samsung is coming at at this strategic time simply because the iPhone 5 release is just around the corner.

Regardless of the US verdict and appeal it really isn’t as meaningful as we North Americans ignorantly believe it to be. Growth in the mobile industry resides to the greatest degree in Asia, where similar suits are falling like dominoes.

And as Apple trumpets the victory horns on the home field, Samsung is quietly pumping their attention to those more important markets.

Litigation will only buy Apple a finite amount of time, and in techyears time is only a blink of the eye. Apple needs to get back to what it is that THEY do best – their current focus in my opinion is simply greed.


Apple did chip in a couple billion dollars or so for Nortel’s patents that included LTE Apple has LTE patents also. Samsung has more but it’s about quality and not quantity. Who has the more valuable LTE patents? Who knows. I’m pretty sure Apple will be buying LTE chips from Qualcomm.


G – It depends quite a bit on what the actual claims in the patents of concern say. If the claims are bounded by the area of the chip then they are probably exhausted. But I would bet some of the claims have elements that go outside of the Intel (or other) chips – like referring to memory, or an antenna, or a handheld system … Then you need to look much closer and have the lawyers argue about it.


Apple is rich enough…but if you think about it they are also scared too.


I do question this article a bunch. There are too many writers that just do not understand that Apple has no desire to license its ideas to people that want to make junk. They licensed items to Microsoft with the proviso that Microsoft not copy Apples design.

It really is straight forward and this whole idea of mega copying comes from when these other cell phone builders do not innovate, but rather just copy each other and try to make the cheapest phone they can. Like the race to the bottom that Dell and HP etc engage in. Everyone makes the same thing and changes the color of the case.

Apple is pushing the boundaries in many areas from ease of use, to functionality, to sturdiness, to UI. And I do not think its going to stop.

Just a thought.


Wrong! Samsung has to license the lte Patents to Apple because they licensed it to others. FRAND!!! Pinsh to zoom / tap to zoom is not licensed to any other firm. No not even to Microsoft.


Well that’s part of the problem isn’t it. Apple patents stuff that makes Samsungs innovation desireable but isn’t quite standards essential. Samsung patents innovation without which the industry wouldn’t be possible so are legally obliged to license it. Apple are just abusing a faulty US patent system.

The Gnome

So what we’re saying is people hate on Apple for suing over their device design work… yet its ok for Samesung to sue over something that is basically FRAND material? And probably sSheep won’t see any issues with this. And probably they think Apple is still the bully.

And if so, Samesung is some little brainless child.

Michael W. Perry

Samsung is far from having lost this legal dispute. As Groklaw is reporting, there are issues with the jury, mostly revolving around the jury foreman, that could get the decision tossed out.

I wonder why either side permitted someone with a patent to be on to this jury. Given this guy’s personality, he became a know-it-all, assuming a knowledge of patent law that even patent attorneys wouldn’t pretend to have.

The result was a quickly done, blunderingly incompetent decision. That means, more legal wrangling, more court fights, and more wasted money.


By your logic no obe with a patent, phone, apple product, samsung product, google product should have been in the jury. That makes no sense a jury should be a selection of average citizens. Also while many may have an opinion of the jury’s comments its very rare for a jury verdict to be toss out.


Not to mention, when jurors were picked, Samsung had ample opportunity to quiz, qualify and reject who might serve on the jury. Samsung supposedly had a rather length questionaire that prospective jurors had to answer. If there is any fault it is Samsung’s.


The problem with groklaw is they are a bunch of lawyers that are upset they couldn’t be on the jury and decide the case according to their training. Plus I don’t get how people outside the jury know it was done too quickly? They weren’t there and is there some rule that says juries should take 5 days to decide not less.

How do you know they were incompetent decisions. The jurors would have applied the tests given to them for each issue. Samsung and Apple would have some say in what those tests are, once they decided on the test the rest is just filling out a form.


Gee Michael, hate Apple much.??? I disagree with Groklaw.
Gee stop people that have any idea about anything, lets see, law, patent, electronics, use a cellphone, etc, etc.
I would not call that a jury of peers, would you.??

The results were done quickly but well. Just listen to the foreman. Even he thought differently when he first started but the evidence made him change his mind. Blatent copying is not right. Even Google told them that.

Just a thought.


Not only that if Samsung licenses the patents to Intel allowing them to grant a license to others, then that is patent exhaustion and Samsung would have no case. Its what happened in the recent trial.

Why would Apple cross license FRAND patents that reside in third party chips? If it buys those chips then it automatically has a license, does it not?

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