blog If you read between the lines of a number of articles about Samsung’s ongoing legal action against Apple on the patent front, it starts to appear increasingly possible that the company will try to block sales of Apple’s iPhone 5 when the device launches in Australia — expected to be before the end of this year.
To start with, a report by European financial newspaper The Financial Times states that Samsung is currently considering blocking sales of the iPhone 5 by seeking a court injunction either in Europe or South Korea. The article states:
“The market’s speculation that Samsung is preparing a legal action to block sales of the iPhone 5 is largely true,” said a person close to the company. But he said Samsung had yet to decide in which country to file the motion.
Samsung has already filed a motion to block sales of Apple’s existing iPhones in the Netherlands. And the legal situation in that country between the two warring manufacturers appears to display a great deal of similarity with Australia. In both countries, Apple has already been successful in blocking some Samsung products from being sold (the Galaxy S series of devices in the Netherlands, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia), and in both countries, Samsung is retaliating with lawsuits based on its control of patents allegedly used by Apple for 3G access in its devices.
A great deal more legal information on the patents concerned — which appear to be the same ones Samsung is counter-suing Apple on in Australia — is contained in this Arstechnica report. Arstechnica writes:
“Samsung claims Apple (or any mobile phone maker) can’t sell a 3G-compatible device without using Samsung’s patented technology. However, such patents are typically encumbered by FRAND licensing agreements, wherein standards-setting organizations agree to use patented technologies from companies involved in the standards-setting process in exchange for an agreement that anyone using the standard can license the patents on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms. Samsung has already aimed similar FRAND-encumbered patents against Apple in the US, UK, France, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Will we see Samsung attempt to block sales of the iPhone 5 in Australia? Right now, it appears extremely possible. With the company already attempting to block existing iPhone sales in the Netherlands, and the same patents at the heart of its legal battle against Apple globally, if Samsung does attempt to block the iPhone 5, it would make absolute sense for the company to try and levy that block globally simultaneously.
Furthermore, Samsung’s counter-suit in Australia already clearly alleges that Apple has infringed its patents in its iPhone and iPad products. I’m not sure how the rules of counter-suits work in Australia; or if it’s possible that Samsung could use its lawsuit to try to halt the sales of Apple’s current iPhones locally. In addition, the counter-suit hasn’t made it into the courtroom yet. However, this is what Samsung referred to last week about the Australian situation:
“Apple Inc.’s infringement of 7 Australian patents owned by Samsung related to wireless communications standards by the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 products.”
One argument against such a move is that Apple isn’t yet trying to stop Samsung sell its Galaxy S smartphones in Australia — only its Galaxy Tab 10″ tablet. If Cupertino did try and block Samsung’s smartphones, I would expect nothing less from Samsung than all-out war. There is no way that Samsung would put up with Apple trying to block sales of its Galaxy S II phone, for example, which is currently one of the hottest smartphones in Australia — to say nothing of the rest of the world.
It wil be interesting to see how this situation — which isn’t in the best interests of consumers — develops. In the meantime, and until the iPhone 5 is announced, all we can do is speculate on what happens next.