The US mobile network operator Verizon Wireless has stepped into the legal battle between Apple and Samsung, asking a Californian court not to ban Samsung's 4G Android devices over alleged patent infringement.
In July, Apple filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California for a preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G and Droid Charge smartphones, as well as its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. Verizon, which carries the Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1, said on Friday that banning those devices would harm both Verizon and consumers.
According to Verizon's Amicus brief, banning the smartphone and tablet "has the possibility of slowing the deployment of next-generation networks — such as Verizon Wireless's — contrary to the stated goals of the US government".
'4G' LTE technology is still quite new, and the Charge is one of only five 4G-enabled smartphones that Verizon carries. The operator said in its filing that Apple's injunction application came at a "critical moment", due to Verizon's LTE rollout and the upcoming holiday season.
Verizon also pointed out that, while Apple is only going after Samsung's new 4G devices, the document-viewing patent in question has nothing to do with 4G and is used in many more older models, not mentioned in the suit. Therefore, the operator argued, "the proposed injunction would disproportionally affect the very devices that are most critical to adoption and expansion of Verizon Wireless's next-generation network".
"Because of factors that have little to do with the patented technology, there will be few alternatives to the Samsung 4G devices in the near term," Verizon said. "It takes considerable time and effort to develop any 4G product — normally, much longer than a year. Any requirement that Samsung redesign its products in light of an injunction may cause long delays before the redesigned 4G devices are available to consumers."
Apple's attempted preliminary injunction would harm the US's competitive advantage in being an early deployer of 4G, slow down the adoption of cloud computing technologies, and hurt app developer job growth, Verizon added.
The carrier's argument left some observers unimpressed. Litigating Apple's Matt Macari wrote that "putting aside the fact that an injunction on the identified devices by a single manufacturer can't really have the devastating effect on the public's interest Verizon asserts, there is another important point to consider — ALL preliminary injunctions present some level of harm to the public".
Verizon's third-party interjection marks the first time a major operator has become vocally involved in the titanic patent struggle between Apple and Samsung. There are at least 21 lawsuits in play between the two companies around the world, and a temporary ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet is already in force in Germany.
Monday is a busy day for Apple and Samsung's legal teams. A court hearing is taking place in The Hague, regarding Samsung's accusation that Apple is not paying to license key 3G patents from the Korean electronic giant.
Another Monday morning hearing in Australia has also seen Apple's lawyers argue that Samsung deliberately designed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to infringe on technologies found in iPads. Meanwhile, Samsung countersued Apple in Australia late last week, claiming it was the iPad, iPod and iPhone lines that were infringing on Samsung's patents.
Samsung has, for now, agreed not to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia until Apple's lawsuit against it has been resolved. It emerged on Monday that online retailer Ruslan Kogan, who had been sidestepping the sales pause by reselling units from overseas markets, has agreed to stop doing so following a legal threat from Apple.