Apple-HTC Settlement Doesn’t Cover Design Patents, Includes “Anti-Cloning” Clause

While terms of the Apple-HTC patent settlement were kept confidential by both parties, a US Magistrate judge had approved Samsung’s request to inspect the document. Armed with the details of the settlement, Samsung hopes that it could undermine Apple’s arguments in court that demand an injunction on the sale of its products in the US.

Yesterday, Samsung filed a heavily redacted copy of the 143 page document with a federal judge, a pdf of which has been uploaded to Scribd.

Although key portions of the document, including the royalty rates, have been blacked out, a number of interesting details, like the nature of the licences granted, are still revealed. AllThingsD reports:

According to the document, both sides are getting a nonexclusive, nontransferrable and non-sublicensable license to certain of the other’s patents. Apple also agrees not to sue HTC over certain covered products, though the specific products are redacted.

The agreement also appears to exclude any of Apple’s design patents and nine specified HTC patents as well as coverage for any products that are defined as cloning an Apple product. (An arbitration process is outlined should Apple feel that HTC has released a “cloned” product.)

The nature of the deal is very similar to the one Apple has with Microsoft, in which both parties agree to not copy each other’s products.

Apple HTC document

Patent expert Florian Mueller over at FOSS Patents notes that the design patents Apple claims Samsung infringes were never a part of any HTC lawsuit, making it very difficult for Samsung to argue that Apple’s open to licensing its design patents.

In his recent interview with BusinessWeek, Tim Cook again noted that he “hates litigation” and dragging Samsung to the court was Apple’s last resort. He admitted that the legal issues between the two companies make their relationship “awkward.”

Here’s the redacted 143 page document:

Apple-HTC Settlement (Redacted)

The question that remains now is whether Samsung’s gambit will work. The documents have been filed and since Samsung still bothered to proceed they must feel they can win some ground based on the HTC-Apple settlement. Clever and risky game, but it might pay off for Samsung.