Apple, Inc. (AAPL) isn't happy with the fact that one of its two U.S. carrier partners -- Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) -- threw its weight behind rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930) in a civil dispute  between the companies.
Apple has filed civil suit in Northern California District Court against Samsung claiming Samsung's Galaxy S smartphones steal the look of its patented iPhone and iPhone 4 design (U.S. Design Patents D618,677 and D593,087) and that it owns the exclusive rights to manufacture minimalist tablet designs via its 2004 "fat-iPad" design patent (U.S. Design Patent D504,889), and hence Samsung -- who makes the minimalist no-face-button Galaxy Tab 10.1 -- is in violation.
Apple also asserts a single technology violation against Samsung, regarding a patent on lists that bounce back when you release them while touch scrolling (U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381).
As recent legal changes have made it harder to ban products from the market in corporate intellectual property disputes, Apple is seeking a back door, asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of Samsung product, pending the outcome of the civil case. As Samsung (like Apple) imports all its handsets and tablets from Asia, this would effectively ban sales.
While the civil case and ITC complaint are intimately linked -- Verizon's amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief applies specifically to the civil case. FOSS Patents attacked Verizon's motion earlier this week suggesting a possibly illegal/anticompetitive conspiracy between Android OS maker Google, Inc. (GOOG) and Verizon. Mr. Mueller also complained that the brief would allow certain companies (implied: Samsung) to "steal" the intellectual property of "original innovators" (implied: Apple).
Apple unsurprisingly agreed with Mr. Mueller's analysis, issuing an Opposition Filing [Scribd] to Verizon's Motion.
11-09-27 Apple Opposition to Verizon Motion
The company's primary argument against the brief boils down to it complaining about Verizon's timeliness in filing the brief. Apple's lawyers quote a judge in a previous federal case who wrote that an amicus curiae brief must be filed "no later than 7 days after the principal brief of the party being supported." As Samsung submitted their Opposition brief on August 22, nearly a month before the Verizon filing, Apple contends the brief should be denied from consideration.
Apple admits, though, that there are no rules governing the timeliness of submissions at this level of the courts. It writes, "The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for a non-party's submission of amicus briefs in district courts."
In the case that the court rejects its arguments on the grounds that there are no formal rules about timeliness, Apple wants the court to give it until October 6 to respond. That would be precisely one week before the October 13th hearing, which should decide whether the Northern California District Court and the U.S. ITC agree to grant Apple's request on a ban on sales of Samsung's smart phones and tablets in the U.S.
Thus far Samsung has essentially won a case in the Netherlands, where the judge found it to violate the technology patent on scrolling (easily remedied by an OS update), but not the design patents (given how different Samsung's devices look). By contrast, a judge in Germany -- Europe's third largest tablet market -- ruled in favor of Apple, upholding its claim to own sole rights to produce minimalist tablets. Samsung's tablets were summarily banned from sale on the German market.
The presiding judge in the case is Judge Lucy H. Koh, the Motion hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, and the case number is 11-cv-01846-LHK "Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al".