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Samsung's Apple ban bid tossed out by Dutch court

Injunction battle lost but the war isn't over

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A Dutch court has rejected Samsung's bid to get bans on iPhones and iPads, saying that the Korean company can't seek an injunction based on standards-essential patents until licensing talks have been exhausted.

However, the court also said that technical arguments on the validity of some patents and whether Apple was breaching them would still go ahead.

Samsung was trying to get iPhones and iPads taken off the shelves based on UMTS/3G-related patents it holds that are part of the 3G standard.

The court ruled that Samsung "has no right to ban, recall or destruction of Apple products".

"This would put the ongoing negotiations under undue pressure. Samsung is obliged to give a licence to Apple under the rules associated with the UMTS/3G standard. This licence must also be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND)," the court decision said (with the help of Google Translate).

The court said that iPhones using Qualcomm chips were covered by that licence, a point Apple has long argued, and said it wanted more information on Intel chip licences to figure out if they cover the rest of the fruity firm's mobile machines.

A Samsung spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Register that it "has and will continue to stand ready to meet its obligations in licensing its technology on fair and reasonable terms".

Apple shared its usual statement on the patent battles, saying: "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging.

"This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."

While the Korean firm lost the attempt to get a ban the case isn't done yet, as "there are arguments about the technical aspects of the business, about whether the patents are valid and whether Apple is breaching them", the court said.

"We look forward to further demonstrating Apple’s infringement of our patents in the technical hearings into this matter, which are due to be held in the coming weeks," the Samsung spokesperson said.

Suing Apple based on standards-essential patents (SEP) has been a losing tactic for Android phone manufacturers Samsung and Motorola so far, with courts by and large upholding the rule that the intellectual property involved in an industry standard has to be licensed to everyone who wants it fairly.

Samsung's use of these patents in its global patent war with Apple has even drawn the ire of the European Commission's antitrust team, who are looking into the possibility that the Korean firm's attempt to wield these in court is anticompetitive.

Samsung and Motorola have both argued that they tried to license their SEP to Apple but the fruity firm wouldn't play ball. Apple has countered that the firms weren't being reasonable in their licensing offers, in particular claiming that Motorola was demanding a licence to all of its non-SEP intellectual properties in return for its SEP ones.

Despite the fact that Samsung is one of Apple's suppliers, hostilities between the two have been reaching fever pitch as the Korean firm emerges as the most likely pretender to the smartphone and (to a lesser extent) fondleslab throne.

However, lately hints have been emerging that Apple and Android-using smartphone makers could be preparing to settle their differences and divvy up the market between them.

A European Commission document on the decision to allow Google's merger with Motorola Mobility said that Apple had held cross-licensing talks with Motorola at the end of last year and there have been rumours that the fruity firm is in talks with other Android manufacturers as well.

Settling up after the various tit-for-tat battles the firms have had worldwide definitely seems to make a lot of sense. Every time Apple wins a point against Samsung, it just turns around and re-releases the offending item with some minor tweaks.

Samsung also supplies chips and screens for Cupertino's iDevices so being friends again seems like it would be a win for both of them. And although its bargaining power is limited, Samsung does hold SEP that Apple needs for its gear. ®

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