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.
The handset market has been overrun with patent lawsuits this year. Make sense of all the litigation below.
- Making Sense of the Handset Patent Plays
- Handset Makers Air Patent Grievances
- Google & Moto: Beyond the Patently Obvious
- Apple Rains on Japan's LTE Tab Parade
- Wireless Competition's Courtside Seats
- Apple, Google Seek Patent Shields
- Apple Escalates Samsung Lawsuit
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile