Samsung Electronics said Monday that it will sue Apple over its release of the iPhone 5 for infringing on its fourth-generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity patents, according to ranking officials.
“It’s true that Samsung Electronics has decided to take immediate legal action against the Cupertino-based Apple. Countries in Europe and even the United States ? Apple’s home-turf ? are our primary targets,’’ said a senior Samsung who is directly involved with the matter, in a telephone interview with The Korea Times.
The Korea’s tech giant’s move came immediately after SK Telecom confirmed Monday that the U.S. technology giant will unveil the iPhone 5 featuring 4G LTE. SK said that it has agreed with Apple to release the LTE-enabled iPhone on the local market for domestic telecommunications frequencies.
“Talks with Apple ended with a good result. We are happy to offer the much speedier new iPhone to our customers,’’ said an SK Telecom official, though the company spokesman declined to confirm the news, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
A KT spokeswoman Kim Yoon-jeong declined to confirm this was the case as it’s not the company policy to talk about client-related issues. But KT sources said it’s unlikely Apple would release the new iPhone using conventional third-generation (3G) networks.
“Apple claimed the existing 3G-related patents are standard essential patents (SEPs) according to our earlier commitment to the FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms. But the story is totally different when you talk about LTE patents. These are new and highly-valued,’’ said another Samsung executive.
In a similar issue, Taiwan’s HTC, which is also battling with the iPhone maker over patents, won a court battle over LTE, raising the possibility that Samsung’s bet will fully pay off.
The Korean company was ordered by a U.S. jury to pay $1.05 billion in damages for an infringement of Apple’s design patents. The jurors led by a controversial foreman Velvin Hogan simply ignored Samsung’s insistence that Apple used its mobile patents without paying proper royalties.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled Samsung didn’t copy Apple and ordered the latter to stop selling its iPads and iPhones, while the Tokyo Central District Court also favored the Korean technology giant by ruling it didn’t infringe on the U.S. firm’s patents.
The two companies are currently playing out similar fights in a court in Den Hague, the Netherlands and an appeals process in a German court this week.
“SK Telecom and KT will face some difficulty in their marketing strategies for the 4G LTE iPhone because of the confirmed a fresh legal attack on Apple,’’ said an industry executive, asking not to be identified.
Apple is being pressured due to Samsung’s rapid rise in the LTE-enabled smartphone market. Samsung recently announced its Galaxy S3 smartphone achieved landmark sales that were a respective three and six times faster than the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2.
The company has sold 20 million Galaxy S3 smartphones, just 100 days after the handset was launched in May.