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Apple Says Samsung Rigged the 3G Standards

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Samsung says Apple used 3G tech and didn’t pay; Apple says Samsung put patented tech into the standards

A hearing in a Netherlands court yesterday was requested by Apple to clear the air before Samsung could proceed with its patent litigation to gain an injunction against the sale of Apple products.

The South Korean company claims that Apple has not paid for licences to Samsung’s intellectual property (IP) contained in the 3G wireless standard. It further added that it has made a request to Apple to pay for the various patents at 2.4 percent of the chip price for every patent.

Claim And Counterclaim

Apple protested at this. Any patented technology included in an international standard (such as 3G) should be available for anyone to use, under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (Frand) terms. It argues that Samsung’s demands do not comply with Frand, and so to apply them would undermine the 3G standard, and ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute), the standards body which formally approved it.

Apple further claimed that it considers that it has already paid licensing fees for Samsung’s intellectual property, as part of the charges for the 3G chipset which was actually  supplied by Intel.

Countering this, Samsung confirmed that Intel has such a licence but prior to this it believes that Apple sourced its chipsets from Infineon. This can only be implied because Apple is highly secretive about its suppliers. If that is the case, Infineon does not have a licensing agreement with Samsung and, as Intel did not buy Infineon until January, 2011, Apple was guilty of infringement until that date.

If this is true, it does raise the question of Samsung’s intention to block sales of the forthcoming iPhone 5 that has been rumoured to be appearing next week. If the iPhone 5 has an Intel 3G chipset then it surely must also carry licensing with it, making Samsung’s effort to ban it unlikely to succeed. Despite this, Apple did state later in the hearing that it believed that Samsung was trying such a move.

Apple claims that if Samsung gets its way it will mean “the end of ETSI as we know it” because an injunction would shatter the trust of the whole industry in the standards-setting process.

It further claims that Samsung buried its IP in the 3G standards and only revealed its interests later, as a nasty surprise for anyone implementing 3G products. Samsung counterclaims that this is often the case when a standard is being formulated because what goes in the standard is not settled until ratification.

Apple contested that any injunction hearing should be held  in abeyance because the Frand talks are ongoing. Samsung denied this and insisted that talks have been exhausted.

Veiled Hints Of Antitrust Action

During the hearing Apple made comments about antitrust behaviour – suggseting Samsung was trying to block its product sales by being obstructive about Frand licensing issues. Apple wanted to bring this issue into the current hearing but the judge denied this. However, Apple’s comments may be a clear indication of its future tactics in the ongoing war of attrition between the companies.

Apple will hold off on antitrust action for now, because there are already over 20 claim and counterclaim hearings between the companies worldwide. These patent and prior art battles, if successful, would be more advantageous to Apple given that they are relatively short-term actions compared to an antitrust hearing that could take years.

Florian Meuller, an IP analyst wrote in his Foss Patents blog: “Apple’s lawyers compared Samsung to Rambus, a company whose demands in connection with patents gave rise to an EU antitrust proceeding. Since ETSI is a European organisation (operating under French law), I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission at some stage. At least, there were a couple of statements by Apple’s lawyers today that clearly accused Samsung of violating European competition law with its behaviour. But antitrust proceedings are slow and Apple wants a quick resolution of this.”

Apple also said that it believed Samsung was planning ex parte hearings (where the accused party, in this case Apple, is not present or informed of the action) – exactly what Apple did to Samsung in the initial German hearing that led to an injunction in that country. The two companies agreed not to entertain such behaviour.

The court will reconvene on the afternoon of 14 October to hear the judge’s ruling.



Samsung claims that Apple refuses to license the 3G patents and infringes “structurally and consciously” on its rights. Samsung maintains that any party can license its essential patents on FRAND terms. The company contests that Apple should have paid for licences before it launched the iPhone in 2007. It further accuses Apple of not seeking a licence, saying that “they cannot be trusted and an injunction is in order”.


Apple contests that Samsung basically rigged the 3G standardisation by injecting its tech into the standard without disclosing its IP rights till later. It believes that ETSI standard rules can only function when patents are disclosed by members in time. An injunction will fundamentally undermine ETSI and frustrate the consumer markets. If incorrect about its belief that it has already licensed the technologies through chipset purchases, Apple would be happy to pay a “reasonable” sum to Samsung.


  1. Apple is full of it here an just exposed themselves for the hypocrites they are.

    They will sue anyone over their lame software & design patents but when it comes to paying for real IP they cry about it–same as they did with Nokia.

    And apple’s defense?
    1. we don’t need a license because intell has one
    2. samsung wants too much
    3. we already have one in france via FRAND document (which isn’t a license)
    4. please don’t ban our idevices because we are currently in negotiations with samsung to acquire a license.

    In other words, apple, you have been blatantly & lavishly stealing IP from Samsung since 2007 and thought you should get away with it but god forbid anyone having rounded corners on their icons, phones or tablets because that’s real IP. . .

    1. Umm. You did not address the validity of any of the claims Apple made. So you believe it is ok for Samsung to bury IP in an International Standard and then launch it as a surprise attack on companies adopting the standard?

      Or are you saying it is ok for Samsung to make Apple pay a license fee for a license Apple already paid for through Intel?

      Or ar you saying it is ok to try and block the sale of future non-infringing devices because of past possible infringement?

      I believe Samsung is actually doing all three of those things. It appears from your post that you support all of those behaviors. Which of those behaviors is Apple engaged in (since you called them hypocrites).

      Apple filed suit against Samsung based on a clear violation of a properly registered design. We may not like it, but at least it is legal. Samsung is committing fraud. You support the fraud. I get it.

    2. Wow you are *so* uninformed (or is that the irrational iHate blindness).

      Samsung is playing a *very* risky game here with FRAND patents–those *can’t* be used as weapons or leverage, they are committed to the standard, ..get it?

  2. @AppleFUD: Taking Your points one by one …
    1. This argument sounds consistent with Apple’s steps when People wanted to sue iPhone/iPad apps Developers, given the fact Apple said the company felt since Apple licensed the materials in question and, in turn, licensed those materials to the Developers. No hypocrisy there but rather complete consistency.

    2. Where did Apple say “Samsung wants too much”? For Someone with the handle “Apple F[ear]U[ncertainty and]D[oubt]”, You seem to be doing a marvelous job injecting Yours by making claims Apple is making claims it did not make.

    3. Apple is talking not about a licensing agreement but about an international standard. If such a process were legally valid the Inventors of every, say, the C and C++ programming languages could sue Samsung for not paying licenses because Samsung writes code which conforms to the ISO C and C++ standards.

    4. Sometimes, People engage in negotiations like such because (a) the negotiation is cheaper than continued litigation and/or (b) People want to make good on what They actually owe. The article presents nothing to say Apple has acted in bad faith but, to the contrary, makes the point of underscoring the argument the responsibility for collecting the requisite royalties and passing them to Samsung rest with Infineon and Intel. Heck, I do not know, if Samsung wants to be consistent, why Samsung does not sue the actual Buyers of iPhones, the Customers. The Customers are the People actually using the technology without authorization. If not the Customers, Samsung should go and sue Infineon and Intel. Everyone else in the production process, from Apple to Foxconn to Verizon, is innocent in My opinion.

    [In case Anyone is wondering, no, I do not have an iPhone.]

    However, it does raise the question of Samsung’s intent. As a Samsung Shareholder, I am concerned the company would either deliberately or carelessly fail to disclose the applicable patent at the time of standardization. Such a move says either the Samsung Employees involved are either deceitful, if the information was withheld on purpose, or incompetent, if the information was unknown.

  3. What you say is reasonable in that Apple are exclusive rights based on look and feel, but look and feel are not international standards. Would i like to stick it to Apple for starting this idiotic patent war – you betcha. Is what samsung are claiming utterly wrong – YES without question. Apple must win this case or we are all losers.

  4. Well, it’s actually more than that..

    Apple initially claimed that Samsung was trying to double-dip on their 3G patents. But Apple changed their strategy after realizing that Samsung’s licensing agreement with Intel expired in 2009 – so now, they are doing the next best thing lawyers can think of – accuse Samsung of rigging the 3G standard.

    Now reality check for Apple fanboys. Let’s face it, Apple is a marketing / design company that makes very successful consumer products. Samsung Electronics is a technology / manufacturing giant with annual sales multiples of Apple’s (though Apple’s market cap is higher). Also consider that Samsung is #2 patent issuer in US after IBM (and has been for a while) and has one of the largest patent 3G porfolio in the world (this should be no surprise as Samsung has been making mobile devices for at least a full decade longer than Apple).

    1. You said, “But Apple changed their strategy after realizing that Samsung’s licensing agreement with Intel expired in 2009 – so now, they are doing the next best thing lawyers can think of – accuse Samsung of rigging the 3G standard.” How does Your assertion this “strategy” is “the next best thing lawyers can think of” invalidate the accusation? If the accusation is correct, the accusation is correct. The fact Someone did not choose to employ such an argument first does not invalidate that argument.

      You also said, “Now reality check for Apple fanboys.” Would You please join the rest of Us seeking constructive dialog and avoid such ‘thought stopping’ phrases as “Apple Fanboys”? The derision commonly associated with the phrase presumes People should not like the products They purchase. However, I am aware of Nobody Who has ever used the phrases “Domino’s pizza Fanboy”, “Always-with-wings Fangirl”, or “Husqvarna Fangrandpa” because such phrases would add nothing to the usefulness of their respective commentaries. Likewise, the same conclusion can be said about “Apple Fanboys”.

      In regards to the rest of Your comment, I feel compelled to ask, “So what?” Apple being a Consumer products company and Samsung being a “technology/manufacturing giant” does nothing to challenge the accuracy of Apple’s claims. What would challenge the claims’ accuracy would be evidence which demonstrated event occurred differently than Apple has described.

  5. Samsung deserve to win this. I hope Apple comes out of this legal war financially crippled.

    All the dirty tactics and abuse of patents just because they cannot compete with proper technology firms.

    1. “Samsung deserve to win this.” How do You come to that conclusion?

      “I hope Apple comes out of this legal war financially crippled.” Schadenfreude is unethical and does not attract People to Your cause nor make You right. Perhaps You would like to join Us in a /constructive/ dialog instead?

      “All the dirty tactics and abuse of patents just because they cannot compete with proper technology firms.” Would You be so kind as to write in full sentences and with clarity so We can understand what You are trying to say? So far, You are coming across as Someone Who goes by emotion alone and not by and degree of reasoning.

  6. Nothing funier when companies like Apple who sell their products as if it was a religion, design their plush shops like churches and relieve millions of customers of vast amounts of money, by the pay, pay and pay again principle pretend to be all high minded and sue level-headed competitors.

    Apple will come a cropper if they continue using the law as a club.

    The fact is they are ignoring the bad publicity they receive from the Press which filters out to customers and destroys their shareholder value.

    It also undermines the Patent system.

    If Apple had been less greedy, Googles Android would not have wiped out their lead.

    So end all ruthless and greedy companies.

    1. “Nothing funier (sic) when companies like Apple who sell their products as if it was a religion, design their plush shops like churches” Hyperbolic much? Since when does Apple “sell their products as if it was a religion”? If Apple does “design their plush shops like churches”, where is the “altar”? Plus, since when is a church considered “plush”?

      “relieve millions of customers of vast amounts of money, by the pay, pay and pay again principle” How does Apple do this? Exactly what products does Apple charge repeatedly for Customers to use? MobileMe, a subscription service, is the only one which springs readily to Mind.

      “pretend to be all high minded and sue level-headed competitors.” No, Apple sues People infringing on legally valid property rights, such as the copyrighted logo and/or design of Apple products, the use of Apple’s widely-known-to-be-patented technology without authorization, or for the dissemination of internal company information/technology without permission.

      “Apple will come a cropper if they continue using the law as a club.” Apple is using the law to protect its property, much like Others do when Their property has been denied or damaged.

      “The fact is they are ignoring the bad publicity they receive from the Press …” Where is Apple receiving “bad publicity … from the Press”?

      “… which filters out to customers and destroys their shareholder value.” Hmm, the stock (AAPL) is up ~60% over the last year and a half, versus 7% for the S&P 500 index and less than 3% for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Please, check Your facts before commenting.

      “It also undermines the Patent system.” So, the enforcement of patent law undermines patent law? You seem to have a Self-destructive piece of logic there.

      “If Apple had been less greedy, Googles Android would not have wiped out their lead.” How do You objectively distinguish between “being greedy” and “requesting fair compensation for the value One adds”?

      “So end all ruthless and greedy companies.” Can You show by objective criteria Apple has acted “ruthlessly” or “greedily”?

  7. I don’t use samsung and i certainly don’t use apple. I just like this tit for tat feud that apple started. If they had just kept their noses out and didn’t sue them for making a phone look like a phone samsung probably wouldn’t have done anything.