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Nokia sides with Apple on injunction case against Samsung

Nokia has sided with Apple in its bid to ban certain Samsung products from the market, saying not granting the injunction could set a dangerous precedent in the U.S. patent landscape.
March 7, 2013
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“You’ve got a friend in me,” Nokia seems to be telling Apple when it filed its amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in support for Apple’s patent claim against Samsung, in particular Apple’s bid for permanent injunction against certain Samsung devices.

According to Judge Lucy Koh, who ruled on the Apple vs. Samsung case, Apple failed to “link any harm it suffers directly to Samsung’s infringement” on a patent-by-patent basis. As such, the burden would have been on Apple to prove that customers specifically buy the infringing products — in this case, Samsung smartphones — specifically because of the features allegedly in infringement of Apple’s patents.

In its brief, Nokia argued that Judge Koh erred in her ruling that Apple needs to establish a “casual nexus” between its patented features and the demand for its phones before an injunction could be granted. This could set a dangerous precedent and “could cause wide-ranging damage to the United States patent protection landscape,” Nokia argued.

The deadline for amicus filings was actually set for February 19, but Nokia requested for a 14-day extension, which was granted. According to Reuters, no other company had submitted their briefs in support of Apple’s case. Meanwhile, Samsung’s brief is not due for a few weeks, and supporting firms can submit their amici briefs afterwards.

But why the support? Recall that Nokia, at one point, had also been embroiled in bitter patent battles against several companies — sometimes as plaintiff and sometimes as defendant. This includes Apple, but Nokia had a cross-licensing deal with Apple sometime in 2011, with both companies exchanging licenses for each other’s patented technologies. “Nokia is thus both a significant patent owner that might seek an injunction to protect its patent rights, and a manufacturer in an industry in which patent owners routinely issue threats of injunctions for patent infringement,” writes Keith Broyles, attorney for the Finnish company.

Are Nokia and Apple strange bedfellows? Not exactly, as the two companies already have a mutually-beneficial deal, in which Nokia has received cash for each iPhone sold, and continues to receive royalties. When it comes down to this, would other Android manufacturers likewise express support for Samsung through filing an amicus brief in the Korean firm’s favor? Or has Samsung grown too big for its own good and that of the Android ecosystem that other brands are also wary of giving their support?