Samsung made a formal request with the U.S. District Court in California for Apple to reveal the intricacies of its contract with wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, who currently supplies chips for the iPhone 4S, CDMA iPhone 4, and iPad 2. Qualcomm is currently in a cross licensing agreement with Samsung, bringing up the question of whether “Apple’s buying Qualcomm chips is as good as paying for the patents.” The documents could potentially reveal Apple’s plans to move to Qualcomm LTE chips in future iOS devices.
Specifically, Samsung defense lawyer Dylan Ruga wants to know if Apple is considered a “Qualcomm Customer,” a term that is “defined in certain licensing agreements between Samsung and Qualcomm.” The request was discovered in court documents by Korea Times and later confirmed by Samsung Electronics spokesperson Lim Yoon-jeong. Korea Times reported:
Samsung Electronics is alleging that Apple has infringed on Samsung-owned patents that relate to technology embodied in chipsets used in Apple’s iPhones and iPads. The documents are expected to determine whether Apple is in fact a direct customer of Qualcomm — and potentially immune from Samsung’s suits — or whether it purchased its chips through an intermediary.
Here is an excerpt from the document that has not been released by the courts:
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“We need all agreements pursuant to which Qualcomm supplies or supplied ‘Qualcomm MDM6610’ chipsets to any person of entity and all documents that evidence, reflect or refer to the use by Apple of Qualcomm chipsets in iPhones or iPads… One of Apple’s primary defenses is that it is entitled to use the chipsets at issue… Samsung seeks to streamline discovery in the litigation with Apple by requesting these highly-relevant documents only once, rather than issuing duplicative requests in each of the foreign litigations
According to the report, Samsung intends on submitting the terms of Apple’s agreement with Qualcomm to courts in eight countries including: Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Korea. Counsel of record for Samsung Electronics from Steptoe & Johnson LLP commented on the situation:
“Apple must have purchased the chipsets at issue from Qualcomm and integrated them into the devices it sells to the public. Thus, the chain of distribution from Qualcomm to Apple is a central issue in Samsung-Apple disputes”
Apple spokesperson in Seoul Steve Park told Korea Times only that Apple intends on protecting its IP from “blatant copying.”
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