Samsung looks to HTC agreement to undermine Apple's litigation tactics

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In a court filing on Friday, Samsung entered a proposed motion to compel Apple to reveal the undisclosed particulars of its recent ten-year licensing deal with HTC, a move that could sway the court's decision in handing down a sales ban against Samsung's products.

The filing, which is part of the post-trial proceedings of the Apple v. Samsung patent trial, seeks to force Apple to reveal whether a recently announced agreement with HTC covered all of the company's patents, a revelation that could change how existing and future lawsuits regarding IP are handled.

As noted by Reuters, if Apple did include its entire patent portfolio, including so-called "user experience" properties that have supposedly never been licensed, the HTC deal could weaken its bid for an injunction against Samsung's products. Courts tend to resolve patent disputes through licensing deals rather than injunctions, with plaintiffs needing to prove irreparable harm that can only be solved with a sales ban. The HTC deal may reveal that Apple is open to accepting monetary compensation for its patents, making it more difficult to prove that an injunction against Samsung's products is the only solution.

Although the Apple and HTC agreement remains confidential, patent litigation experts believe it unlikely that the Taiwanese company would settle for anything less than the entire patent portfolio.

Apple has been at odds with HTC since it alleged infringement of certain iPhone patents in 2010. Apple announced that it struck a deal with the Taiwanese handset maker on its website over the weekend, effectively ending the two-year dispute.

AppleInsider reported on Monday that the HTC deal may serve as a blueprint for Apple's case against Samsung, as well other ongoing lawsuits, a tactic that may be at the behest of CEO Tim Cook. Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs vowed to "destroy" Google's Android, an operating system he felt was a stolen product based on iOS, saying he would "go thermonuclear war on this." Counter to Jobs' vehement opposition of settling patent disagreements, Cook appears to be more willing to do so. During the company's quarterly conference call for the second quarter of 2012, Cook said that he would "highly prefer" to settle Apple's worldwide litigation than do battle in the courtroom, but noted that rivals need to "invent their own stuff."

Friday's motion also included email correspondence between Apple and Samsung counsel, showing that Apple is still deciding whether to reveal the HTC license details willingly. "Apple continues to consider Samsung’s request for the HTC agreement, but notes that it will need to seek HTC’s consent to produce the agreement," wrote Apple lawyer Richard Hung.

According to the proposed motion to compel, Apple will need to file its opposition to Samsung's request by November 20, 2012.