Samsung Claims There Would Be No iPhone Without Its Patents

Tied with the U.S. ITC reviewing one of Apple’s recent patent victories over rival Samsung, the head of Samsung’s mobile division Shin Jong-kyun is talking some serious smack about Apple and the iPhone. And he might even be right.

Shin Jong-kyun has some pretty harsh words about Apple and the iPhone:

“The truth never lies. Without Samsung-owned wireless patents, it’s impossible for the Cupertino-based Apple to produce its handsets,’’ said Samsung’s mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun in a brief meeting with local reporters on his way to the company’s main office in downtown Seoul, Wednesday. “As you know, Samsung is very strong in terms of portfolios of wireless patents,’’ the executive added.
From: Korea Times

The thing is, he might just be right, which is actually at the crux of the suit the ITC is reviewing (and several others before the courts)—when you hold a standards essential patent, you can’t punish everyone else if they license it from you. The Korea Times article hits it saying:

The ITC plans to discuss in the review issues relating to standards-essential patents, including whether an undertaking to license a patent on FRAND, which is short for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory precludes a ban on a product if it infringes the patent.

Standards-essential patents have been invoked in a number of infringement disputes in the U.S., Europe and other countries.

While Shin’s comments may draw the ire of Apple fans, let’s not forget that most of the tech we use licenses patents from other people to make it all work. Display technology, trackpads, keyboards, mice, even networking. Other people invented them, other people patented them, everyone else licenses them.

What the ITC is trying to figure out is when we’re talking about standards essential patents (like 3G), can the patent holder ask for a ban on a product even when it has been licensed, but there is some kind of infringement found. I guess it’s the legal equivalent of having your cake, eating it too, and then not letting anyone else eat it either.

We’ll see how this all pans out in January when the ITC is expected to make its ruling on the case.