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Boon for Apple as German court invalidates Samsung 3G patent

Apple on Wednesday received a boost in its legal struggles against chief rival Samsung, as Germany's Federal Patent Court invalidated part of a Samsung patent on 3G technologies.

Germany's Bundespatentgericht ruled in Apple's favor on Wednesday, invalidating the German part of EP1005726, which Samsung had declared essential to 3G wireless standards, according to FOSS Patents. EP1005726 covered a "turbo encoding/decoding device and method for processing frame data according to QoS."

German court

The German Federal Patent Court (BPatG). Image via Wikipedia.

Samsung had been trying to secure injunctions against Apple products over the patent, but a preliminary ruling by the European Commission found that Apple was a willing licensee of the patent and that injunctive relief against such a licensee amounted to abusive conduct. Samsung withdrew its injunction requests, but the company continued to pursue damages.

In licensing standard-essential patents such as EP1005726, Samsung is bound by rules dictating that it conduct its licensing in a Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) fashion. The South Korean manufacturer may still appeal the Bundespatentgericht's decision to the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice).

The most recent ruling affects but one of an array of cases, both in Germany and around the globe, in the Apple-Samsung patent struggle. In February, the Mannheim Regional Court stayed another Samsung suit, this one over Apple's VoiceOver functionality, pending yet another case that could invalidate a Samsung patent.

The two tech giants are locked in litigation in a number of countries, with allegations of infringement on myriad patents coming from both parties. In the United States, a federal judge recently ordered the two companies to narrow their respective patent claims so that their cases could proceed next year.