Apple and Samsung fighting the same foe? What's next? New York Yankee and Boston Red Sox fans singing "Kumbaya" together? Manchester United and Liverpool FC supporters taking up joint knitting lessons?
It's actually just another case of businesses being attacked by the same patent troll. In this case, Luxembourg-based Enterprise Systems Technologies (EST) SARL. This newly formed company owns five patents formerly owned by Siemens.
These patents cover technology used for automatic downloads, hands-free telephony, network bandwidth optimization, an audio jack that can be shared by a telephone and media player, and an instant message routing system.
In each complaint, EST claims that the companies it's suing create devices that are "communications or computing devices, or components thereof, including for example but without limitation, smartphone handsets, tablet computers, e-readers, media players, laptop computers, and other communication- and/or computing-capable consumer electronic devices...embodying the 5,870,610 Patent."
EST says that the company has known of this "infringement since at least, and through, the filing and service of the Complaint," and that EST is entitled to recover damages to compensate for the infringement. The wording is the same for each company EST is suing.
The businesses being sued by EST, besides Apple and Samsung, include HTC, LG, and Cirrus Logic. Microsoft, it appears, has paid the troll off.
If the companies don't pay off, EST has asked the Federal Trade Commission to ban the import of all infringing products such as Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Apple’s iPhone 5S, the Apple Macbook Air, the LG Nexus 5 and HTC One M8.
EST is also suing Apple, Cirrus, and Qualcomm and Audience for patent infringement in Delaware federal court; it's suing Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola Mobility and Amazon in the notoriously patent-troll friendly Eastern District of Texas court.
I like to call EST's approach the shotgun theory of patent litigation: Blast away at all possible targets and hope for the best.
So that's why, even as Apple's and Samsung's long, enormously expensive patent wars slowly fizzle out, the two enemies find themselves on the same side verus a patent troll. Isn't it time we reformed the patent system once and for all?