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Apple tells Samsung it will only license out 'lower level patents'


In its ongoing legal battle with Samsung, Apple has told its rival that it owns a "thicket of patents," but it will only license "lower level patents" to competing companies.

The revelation comes from a 65-page document Apple filed in Australian court last week, after the iPad maker was granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents went through the filing, and declared it "one of the most interesting court orders I have read in connection with mobile devices."

In the filing, Apple revealed that it is prepared to allow Android device makers the ability to license "some lower level patents." But Apple also wants to keep many of its inventions exclusive to its own iOS products.

Mueller said the document shows that Apple did not begin pursuing legal action against Android device makers simply to obtain a licensing deal. That's in contrast to Microsoft, which is believed to receive $5 per unit for every Android device sold by HTC.

Microsoft's licensing deal with HTC is believed to be so lucrative that some pundits have speculated that the company could make more money off of Google's Android platform than it does from its own Windows Phone 7. But Apple has taken a different approach.

"Apple optimizes for product differentiation," Mueller wrote. "Apple isn't Microsoft, which concluded a license deal with Samsung as well as eight other Android device makers. Those two companies have different business models in general and with respect to patents in particular."

Microsoft and Samsung announced in late September that Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung's Android-powered smartphones and tablets. The two companies also agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of the Windows Phone platform.

Apple has had the upper hand in its legal encounters with Samsung, successfully securing the injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, as well as another, separate injunction in Germany. But Samsung has not found as much success, as last week a Dutch judge ruled in favor of Apple and denied Samsung's request to halt iPhone and iPad sales in the Netherlands.