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Judge to Apple: You WILL tell Samsung what you got from HTC

Cupertino's US tax on smartphones likely to be flat

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A US judge has told Apple it had better cough up its whole unredacted licensing agreement with HTC in the fruity firm's case against Samsung, a move that could help the Korean company fight a potential sales ban in the country.

Apple had said that it would give Samsung's lawyers access to the document, but it would be blacking out what HTC was paying for its broad 10-year licence to Apple patents as well as the method the two firms used to come up with that figure.

But Judge Paul Grewal said yesterday in a court filing that Apple has to give Samsung the whole deal, without crossing anything out, for attorneys' eyes only.

"Although the court is more than a little skeptical of Samsung’s arguments regarding the financial terms, Rule 26* supplies a broad standard of relevance," Grewal said.

"Many third parties to this case have had their licensing agreements disclosed – without any redaction of financial terms – subject to an Attorneys-Eyes-Only designation because the confidential financial terms were clearly relevant to the dispute between Apple and Samsung.

"HTC is not entitled to special treatment, especially when it has recognised the general sufficiency of the protective order and the integrity of Samsung’s outside counsel," he added.

Back in August a jury awarded Apple just over $1bn from Samsung for the Korean firm's alleged infringement on its patents. Sammy is trying to get that decision overturned due to jury bias and failing that, it still has an appeal to go.

As it stands though, Apple is looking for permanent injunctions against Samsung devices in the suit, a motion that will be talked about in a December hearing. The Korean chaebol is arguing that Apple doesn't need the sales bans, monetary compensation and royalties should be enough. Sammy says if Apple is happy to license to HTC, it should be happy to license to its other rivals.

Getting its hands on the actual amount that HTC is paying will help bolster that argument and give Sammy a starting off point for negotiations. Samsung will be hoping it can stop the fruity firm from gouging it for more than other licensees are paying, something Apple might like to do to its biggest competitor.

Meanwhile, in the patent squabblers' second US case, Samsung has moved to add the iPad mini, the iPad and the iPod Touch and three prior generations of the iPod Touch to its list of allegedly infringing iDevices.

The second suit includes allegations from both sides, with Apple citing the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy SIII, and is likely to go to trial sometime next year if the firms don't settle before then.

If Samsung pursues a global licence settlement with Apple similar to HTC's in the first case, this second suit and many others around the world will (finally) be over. ®

* Rule 26 is an American civil procedure regulation that contains general provisions about discovery, including methods, scope, etc.

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