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Samsung Fails in Dutch iPhone 4S Ban Bid

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Dutch court says Samsung’s 3G essential patent is “exhausted”

A Dutch court has refused Samsung’s bid to block the sale of Apple’s iPad and iPhone in the country, in what has been described as a victory for “the concept of FRAND standards.”

The court ruled that Samsung could not gain an injunction as Apple appeared willing to negotiate a license agreement on FRAND terms for the use of one of the Korean manufacturer’s 3G patents. However, the door has been left open for Samsung to seek damages over Apple’s use of Intel chips.

Exhausted Patents

According to the ruling, Samsung cannot assert 3G/UMTS patents against the iPhone 4S as Apple is licensed by extension, since it purchases baseband chips from Qualcomm, which has a licensing deal with Samsung. The court said that Samsung’s attempt to terminate this agreement with the American chipmaker failed because it had committed to grant irrevocable licenses to 3G/UMTS-essential patents.

Meanwhile, Apple has been granted leave to make a case for patent exhaustion over Intel chips under US law. It must make its case before 28 March and if it does, Samsung will have until 11 April to reply.

“The Dutch court once again found that Samsung sought injunctive relief at a time when, in that court’s opinion, it had yet to comply with its FRAND licensing obligations,” commented analyst Florian Mueller, in a blog post. “So far, Samsung has not been able to prevail with any of its offensive claims against Apple anywhere on this planet. Today’s ruling is only the latest in a series of losses. Samsung succeeded against Apple only defensively by fending off, or winning the reversal of, decisions in Apple’s favour.

“Against that background, Samsung is not presently in a position to force Apple into a settlement on the Korean company’s preferred terms.”

The ruling is the latest development in a worldwide legal battle between the two companies that has seen Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned from sale in Germany, yet a Dutch court refused to do the same. Samsung tried to block the sale of the iPhone 4S in France and Italy over a 3G patent but failed.

The company is currently the subject of an EU investigation that is deciding whether Samsung is illegally attempting to hinder its competitors through the use of its patents and Mueller thinks that this case could have implications for it.

“Samsung is going to have to explain this conduct to the European Commission, which is formally investigating Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents against Apple,” he commented.

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