In what has to be one of the quickest resolutions to a patent lawsuit between tech giants in recent history, Microsoft and Samsung have announced a settlement over patent royalties for some code included in Samsung’s Android devices. The lawsuit stemmed from an agreement reached between the two companies in 2011 that flared up in August 2014 when Microsoft accused Samsung of breach of contract.
When a carrier surprises customers with unauthorized (or unknown) charges on their monthly bills, it is known as cramming. Over the last few months, the largest carriers in the United States were exposed for doing so. The government is coming down on them with little remorse. On Wednesday, Sprint was served with a $105 million fine from the FCC. And on Friday, T-Mobile reached a settlement with the FTC to avoid any further potential damage.
Since HTC and Apple reached an agreement to cross-license patents and end their litigation, many have wondered just what kind of deal was made. One party that was particularly interested is Samsung, who argues the agreement shows injunctions are not needed as a value for patent infringements can be determined. Samsung went so far as to request one of the courts hearing one of the many Samsung v. Apple disputes to force Apple and HTC to reveal the details of the agreement. As a result of that request, which the court approved, a heavily redacted version of the agreement has surfaced in the public court filings.
Several UK mobile network providers, the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom, and other government officials have announced a deal that will accelerate the rollout of 4G LTE services throughout the UK. The settlement means carriers like O2 and Vodafone will likely be able to start deploying their 4G LTE networks in early 2013, about six months earlier than originally thought.
UK carrier EE was previously granted permission to use some of their existing 1800 MHz spectrum for 4G LTE network purposes and they were expected to start that rollout this fall. However, other UK carriers like O2 and Vodafone had been threatening to launch legal action claiming the permission to use the spectrum for 4G services was improper and that EE was being given an unfair advantage. Ofcom has now agreed to accelerate the approval process for 4G LTE services for other carriers after a planned January action of old analog television spectrum occurs in January 2013.
With the agreement, EE is anticipated to announce the imminent launch of their 4G LTE network. They have indicated they have plans to deploy the service to 16 UK cities before the end of the year and to 98% of the UK by 2014. Other carriers will be behind with their deployments which should now occur sometime in early 2013, but with the agreement the head start that EE gets will not be as great.
The settlement means the UK will be able to start to catch back up to other countries that already have 4G LTE services well established. As Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive notes, consumers are the big winners as they will not have to wait for “a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.”
Apple and Samsung are set to meet May 21st for settlement talks, and Samsung’s mobile head JK Shin is sounding optimistic that talks can be fruitful, though he does warn that there’s still a lot they are not seeing eye-to-eye on. At the Seoul airport on the way to the U.S. talks, Shin told reporters the following:
“There is still a big gap in the patent war with Apple but we still have several negotiation options including cross-licensing.“
This is definitely a softening of the language used by Shin in March when he promised “no compromise.” It’s hard to believe tomorrow’s talks will end in rainbows and unicorns.
When asked about the 4G chip shortage Samsung is currently experiencing, Shin said it was expected to continue until early in the fourth quarter of this year, meaning some time in October. This could be a big problem as the LTE-capable Galaxy S III is on the horizon in the United States and could be forced to use other vendors’ 4G chips to keep production numbers up.
It’s no secret that Apple and Samsung have been at each other’s throats in patent lawsuit after patent lawsuit. It’s been going on for quite some time, and everyone knows that the longer the dispute lasts, the more money is spent in legal fees. Perhaps that’s why Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi and Apple CEO Tim Cook have agreed to meet for settlement talks, according to FOSS Patents.
Within the next 90 days, the two will meet, along with their respective legal posses, in a San Francisco court. The meeting, requested by Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over two of their lawsuits in California, will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero.
After the request had been made to participate in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Apple and Samsung responded with this joint statement.
With all the lawsuits going on it is refreshing to hear of two companies that have decided to drop the gloves. Sony and LG have resolved patent disputes that involved smartphones, TVs, and Blu-ray technology by entering into a cross-licensing deal.
They originally had a technology sharing agreement that expired three years ago, but they never renewed it. Sony filed a complaint against LG with the International Trade Commission seeking to block LG from shipping several smartphones to the U.S. Then LG told the commission that Sony’s PlayStation 3 infringed its Blu-ray technology.
“LG and Sony recently agreed to drop patent infringement lawsuits against each other,” a spokeswoman at South Korea’s LG Electronics said. Sony confirmed this, but declined to comment further.
It looks like after a long drawn out battle of years and years of suing and counter suing, Apple and Nokia have finally reached an agreement. Both companies have agreed to withdraw all complaints against each other and Apple will gear up its wallet to pay out one lump sum to Nokia in addition to paying royalties for the remainder of the agreement. Nokia’s Stephen Elop had this to say:
“We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees,” said Stephen Elop, president and chief executive officer of Nokia. “This settlement demonstrates Nokia’s industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market.”
Don’t we wish all settlements could end like this one? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Hit the break for the full press release, if you’re a press release kind of person.