Web & communication software

Apple Infringes on Samsung UMTS Patent, Dutch Court Rules

Apple was found guilty of infringing on a UMTS related patent owned by Samsung and must compensate Samsung an undetermined amount, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday.

The court ruled that Apple infringes on Samsung's UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) patent by using Intel and Infineon baseband chips in the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 and the iPad 1 and 2. By using these chips without paying a license fee, Apple has caused harm to Samsung since August 2010, the court said in the verdict.

The verdict does not include the iPhone 4S and the new iPad because they use Qualcomm baseband chips.

Apple infringes on Samsung's EP1188269 patent that describes an "apparatus for encoding a transport format combination indicator for a communication system," according to the court in The Hague. The court also noted that the regional court in Mannheim, Germany, ruled in March this year that Apple does not infringe on the same patent.

Apple was given two months by the court to specify the number of infringing products sold in the Netherlands, and has to provide the related revenue and profit resulting from those sales to Samsung. Apple was also obliged to provide an inventory of infringing products it keeps in stock in the Netherlands. If Apple does not comply, it has to pay a penalty of €10,000 (US$12,700) for every violation of the verdict, with a maximum total penalty of €5 million, the court ruled.

Because the patent in question is standard-essential, Apple will eventually have to pay a licensing fee to Samsung under so called fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The sales of the products in the Netherlands cannot be banned, since The Hague court ruled in March this year in an interlocutory judgement that it would not grant injunctions.

Apple's defense consisted of disputing the validity of the patent. The court declared only part of the patent valid. Because both Apple and Samsung in this way won part of the lawsuit, they both had to pay their own litigation costs, the court ruled. Both parties agreed that the winner had to pay for all the litigation costs.

Samsung said in a statement that this ruling confirmed that Apple uses their technologies free of charge, adding that they intend to recover damages "adequately."

"We will continue to defend our innovations and to protect our intellectual property rights to stop Apple from using our technology for free," Samsung said in an emailed statement.

Apple had no immediate response to the verdict and didn't say if it was going to appeal. But in its official statement, it repeated its stance that Samsung is "blatantly" copying Apple's products.

The court in The Hague ruled in two other lawsuits between Samsung and Apple on Wednesday.

In one case, the court ruled that Apple does not infringe on EP1478136, a patent on the "fast adaptation of the data rate of a reverse packet data channel in a mobile communication system."

The other verdict considered if Apple was infringing on a patent on an "apparatus and method for controlling a demultiplexer and a multiplexer used for rate matching in a mobile communication system" (EP1114528) and a patent on a "turbo interleaving apparatus and method" (EP1097516). The court ruled that Apple does not infringe on the first patent and declared the second one invalid.

Samsung has to cover Apple's litigation costs in both cases -- €800,000.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Udo de Haes from the Dutch IDG publication Webwereld.nl)

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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