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T-Mobile sides with Samsung in Apple patent infringement case

On the heels of Verizon coming out in support of Samsung in Apple's patent lawsuit against the South Korean electronics maker, T-Mobile has submitted a brief opposing a proposed preliminary injunction against the company's smartphones and tablets.

The wireless carrier submitted an amicus curiae, "friend of the court," brief in defense of Samsung on Wednesday, along with a request to be admitted as a third party and a motion to shorten time to ensure that the request is considered ahead of an Oct. 13 hearing on Apple's motion for a preliminary injunction, Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports.

The filing closely resembles the arguments that Verizon Wireless made in its own filing last Friday, even noting that "to the extent applicable, T-Mobile incorporates the arguments of [Verizon's brief]." The nation's largest wireless carrier had argued in its brief that an preliminary injunction on Samsung's devices was detrimental to public interest because it could slow deployment of next-generation networks, possibly affecting "first responders and public safety officials."

Unlike Verizon, however, T-Mobile extends its public interest arguments to apply to all of Apple's asserted patents, not just the single software patent. Verizon's motion had excluded three of Apple's design patents from its brief, instead focusing on the lone software patent asserted against the devices.

T-Mobile's request to shorten time is meant to preempt an expected objection from Apple over the late filing of the motion. The iPhone maker on Tuesday opposed Verizon's request to file a brief in support of Samsung, arguing that the filing was "untimely." Mueller notes that the submission fails to mention why T-Mobile waited more than two months to file its motion, given that Apple asked for a preliminary injunction on four devices — the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1, on July 1.

Apple does not currently offer the iPhone on the T-Mobile network. The carrier's chief marketing officer said earlier this week that "the ball is in Apple's court" for a potential partnership between the two companies. But, T-Mobile's decision to side with Samsung in its dispute with Apple does not help its cause.

T-Mobile has bet heavily on Android, with 90 percent of its smartphone sales coming from devices powered by Google's mobile operating system. The carrier could vicariously sell the iPhone if rival AT&T completes its proposed acquisition of the carrier, but the deal faces opposition from the U.S. Justice Department, which has sued to block the transaction. In the meantime, T-Mobile continues to operate independently of AT&T.

Apple and Samsung began their legal dispute in April, but the electronics maker's legal woes have ramped up in recent weeks. Samsung has agreed to continue delaying the launch of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia while awaiting a ruling from the judge presiding over the case. Justice Annabelle Bennett has said she expects to decide by next week whether to impose an injunction. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has also been blocked from being sold in Germany.