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Disclosure could give Samsung leverage when bargaining with Apple, help it stay ahead

When it comes to sales only one Android OEM has passed Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in U.S. sales.  In fact, Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) has left Apple far behind in sales; in some quarters its top handset outsold Apple's only handset (the iPhone).  Meanwhile Samsung is the only Android OEM to be strongly profitable, although it still trails the lower volume Apple in profits.

Given that state of affairs, it perhaps makes a bit more sense why Samsung has been Apple's number one target in court.  So far Apple and Samsung are one and one.  In the UK Apple lost a major case to Samsung and was forced to print an apology ad; meanwhile in the U.S. a jury went the opposite way finding Samsung guilty of $1.05B USD in "willful infringement" (that case is being appealed).

Now even as Apple and Samsung lock horns for a second trialU.S. District Court for the Northern District of California's San Jose courtroom Judge Paul S. Grewal has made a key ruling which may give Samsung leverage at the bargaining table.  In a court order on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Judge Grewal ordered [PDF] that Apple had to disclose the terms of its intellectual property cross-licensing agreement with HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).

Apple v. Samsung
Apple will have to give fiscal details of its licensing agreement with HTC to Samsung.
[Image Source: Gizmodo]

Apple and HTC settled up earlier this month, with Apple reportedly getting less than half what Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) gets in Android licensing fees.  The licensing deal is set to last for 10 years.

The Cupertino company, despite having a stacked, high-power litigation team likely settled with HTC in part because HTC is struggling in sales and isn't much of a threat.  Now it may regret cutting a relatively reasonable deal with the Asian OEM, as it may look unfair and uncooperative to the judge and jury, should it reject a similar statement by Samsung.

According to reports while Microsoft squeezed only $10 USD per handset from HTC, it gets 50 percent more -- roughly $15 USD per handset -- from Samsung.

The document in question has been labeled "Attorneys-Eyes-Only", so it is unlikely the media will get their hands on the exact licensing details; particularly after Samsung was already admonished in the last round for allegedly leaking Apple court filings to the press.

An injunction hearing will be held on Dec. 6, at which point a California district judge will decide on whether to temporarily ban U.S. sales of Apple's iPhone 5 and/or Samsung's Galaxy S III, in addition to other Samsung "Jelly Bean" products.

Source: Judge Grewal via SBNation [The Verge]





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