Verizon Defends Samsung Against Apple

Verizon Wireless is coming to the aid of its top Long Term Evolution (LTE) device maker, filing an amicus curiae brief in support of Samsung Corp. in its legal fight against Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).

FOSS Patents blogger Florian Mueller first reported Verizon’s request, which was lodged in a California court and asked for permission to intervene as a third party in the case.

Apple is seeking an injunction on four Samsung devices in the U.S., including the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1. Verizon argues that blocking these devices would impede the growth of its burgeoning LTE network. Samsung is one of six LTE device makers, and the carrier says that blocking the devices just as it expands its LTE network and prepares for the holiday buying season would cause irreparable harm. The brief concludes:

    A preliminary injunction would hinder Verizon Wireless in developing and deploying its next generation high-speed LTE network, the job growth dependant [sic] on that network, and will undercut key public policy goals, including expansion of American’s access to broadband networks and faster communication with emergency personnel.

Samsung changed its position with regard to the suit last week, promising to get aggressive with Apple in court from here on out, but the two have been tied up in more than 20 lawsuits across the globe all year. The latest wins have gone to Apple, such as in Germany, where courts banned the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and in Australia, where the tablet’s launch has been delayed. (See Apple vs. Android Patent Spat Goes Global, Samsung Tries to Block Apple Sales in the US and Apple Sues Samsung for iCopying.)

Apple filed its preliminary injunction against Samsung in the U.S. in July, and the case will be heard on Oct. 13.

Why this matters
While it’s common for operators to make submissions to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) commenting on the public interest associated with potential bans, Mueller says that it is unprecedented for an operator to intervene like this in a federal court.

Verizon is the biggest proponent of Android in the U.S. to date, though it has also benefited from carrying Apple’s iPhone on its network since February. In picking sides, it risks alienating one of its partners. But it seems the carrier believes that losing even a few of its LTE devices at such an early stage would be more detrimental.

The Litigating Apple blog points out, however, that public interest arguments are rarely deciding factors in this type of case, so Verizon might be sticking its neck out for nothing.

For more
The handset market has been overrun with patent lawsuits this year. Make sense of all the litigation below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:52:41 PM
re: Verizon Defends Samsung Against Apple

I have a question to pose: If you were the decision maker at Apple, with controlling share in tablets, and your tablets are clearly the ones consumers want (apple's share is larger than all other suppliers combined by a long shot), what would you do?

Would you play hardball like Microsoft used to do in the OS wars?  Or would you be concilliatory?

Apple could consider the following given it's large cash hoard:

1) do not release next phone on Verizon until some quarters after ATT gets it.... 

2) or down feature the VZ phone so VZ customers have a less pleasant experience and hence drive toward ATT.

3) don't release the next gen tablet on VZ and use their cash hoard to put the screws into VZ?  In other words, release it on ATT and also on T-mobile and Sprint and US Cellular and Cricket....just not on VZ.  Let VZ see competition eat some of their share..... and back to the "use the cash hoard".... find some way to invest such that the weaknesses in Sprint's network are overcome and Sprint becomes a viable 3rd strong player in the market.  Maybe nudge sprint and Tmobile to merge, then merge the new entitity with Clearwire or others to make a real threat to VZ.

4) take the chip and supply chain business away from Samsung.  Let Samsung figure out if it wants to be part of the leading mobile ecosystem via selling chips and components to Apple, or if Samsung is happy to be a much smaller (% wise) seller of tablets and have zero apple dollars in their income?

I am not sure any of those are the correct path to take.  I am sure the marketing team at apple are more sophisticated in these matters than I am.  So posing the questions by way of sparking some discussion.

I would be tempted to use my leverage if I were Apple.  Again, not sure it is the right decision, but it does pose some interesting thoughts.


sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:52:40 PM
re: Verizon Defends Samsung Against Apple

I don't think that'd be the right decision. When patent lawsuits start to harm customers and innovation, they've gone too far. I think we're already well on the way down that path.

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:52:39 PM
re: Verizon Defends Samsung Against Apple

Without defensible patents and IPR, there would be no silicon valley and both you and I would not have work.  (Lightreading success is on a foundation of innovation paid for by VC's... without VC founded and backed companies, there would be no need for LR as a publication).

Without IPR, VC's would not invest and that would surely strangle and kill off innovation far more than the current "patent wars" might potentially do.



note: again, my comments in my previous post were meant to stimulate convesation.  At a high level, my suggestions are provacative and I do not entirely agree with them.  But I also think VZ trying to bully the markets into getting what they want and shifting profits to VZ and away from the owners of IPR is also bad for innovation.

 Imagine how Microsoft would have reacted if someone told them they could not have the IPR rights they have and had to "share" their patents in a pool.

A lot of innovation would never have happened and a lot of wealth would not have been created.

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