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Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 12:06 am PT (03:06 am ET)

Apple objects to timing of Verizon interference in Samsung case

Apple has opposed Verizon's motion to file a brief in support of Samsung in a patent infringement dispute with the argument that the wireless operator waited too long to file its request.

The Cupertino, Calif., company's filed its objection on Tuesday, asking the court to either dismiss Verizon's request as untimely, or allow Apple to submit a response on Oct. 6, Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports.

Verizon submitted a request last Friday to file an amicus curiae brief in defense of Samsung. The proposed brief takes issue with Apple's request for a preliminary injunction on four of Samsung's products, arguing that any injunction would work against the public interest.

Apple first sued Samsung in April, then filed a request for an preliminary injunction on some of Samsung's newest smartphones and tablets. The products in question are the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1.

"The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for a non-party's submission of amicus briefs in district courts," Apple's filing read. Mueller agreed with Apple's assessment, pointing out that "in all of the many lawsuits" that he has monitored, this is the first attempt by a party to file such a brief.

Apple's filing does not yet address the wireless carrier's public interest arguments, objecting first to the tardiness of the request. Verizon's motion "would have been untimely by several weeks" if submitted in an appellate court, Apple argued. Given that Samsung filed its own reply to Apple's request for a preliminary injunction on August 22, Apple noted that Verizon's brief would have been due at the end of August.

The company points out that its request for an injunction was filed nearly three months ago, discovery closed about a week ago and its reply brief to Samsung is due soon. The hearing on the motion is scheduled for Oct. 13. The motion contains a footnote from Apple stating that "Verizon's counsel first sought Apple's consent for Verizon to submit an amicus brief on that same day [September 23, the day when Verizon filed its brief]."

Apple describes the timing as "disruptive to Apple's ability to present its positions to the Court in an orderly fashion," asserting that it doesn't leave enough time for an "opportunity to seek discovery (whether from Verizon, Samsung, or another company) to rebut Verizon's claim that a preliminary injunction is contrary to the public interest."

Mueller speculated that Verizon was "in a real hurry last week" preparing for the motion and suggested that the company may have taken "quite some time" to decide whether to get involved with the case. He goes on to posit that Verizon may have achieved its primary objective of "giving the impression of support for Google and Samsung," regardless of whether its amicus brief is accepted.

Verizon's decision to get take a side in the case has complicated an already difficult situation. The fact that Apple has a business relationship with Samsung as a customer, while also being bitter rivals, has made for a tense dispute. An executive for the South Korean electronics giant said last week that the company had initially held back out of respect, but will now become "more aggressive" in its legal battle with Apple.

Apple and Verizon became partners when they teamed up to bring the iPhone 4 to the Verizon network after more than three years of AT&T exclusivity in the U.S. Samsung and Verizon have shared a close relationship for several years as they've worked together to present Google's Android operating system as a viable alternative to the iPhone and iPad.