Samsung Loses New Evidence Bid in Australia Apple Dispute

Samsung Electronics Co., fighting a global battle with Apple Inc. over disputed patents, lost a court bid in Australia to bring up evidence showing the two sides have been involved in on-going settlement talks.

Samsung sought, through witness statements, to show there have been ongoing talks “until recently” to determine a fair royalty, according to a Nov. 4 ruling. The decision issued by Australia Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett was posted on the court’s website today with redactions to commercially sensitive references, including the specifics of the royalties. Bennett dismissed the request, saying it was made too late and would disrupt the timetable for a trial.

Apple had unsuccessfully sued Samsung in Australia in 2011 seeking a ban on the sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets, claiming the South Korean company infringed its touch-screen patents. Samsung countersued claiming Apple devices infringed three of its standard-essential patents. Apple countered with a suit accusing Samsung of breaching international obligations to negotiate a fair royalty on the patents.

“Substantial costs would be wasted and it is more probable than not that the hearing date would need to be vacated,” Bennett wrote. “Samsung has been given more than sufficient opportunity to agitate its case.”

A trial on Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s counterclaim is scheduled to begin Nov. 26 and run through April 10 in federal court in Sydney.

Battle Royalties

Apple’s cross-claim is based on an offer made by Samsung on July 25, 2011 for a specific royalty to be paid for each product, details of which are crossed out in Bennett’s judgment.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, claims it’s willing to pay a royalty on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, known as FRAND, as required by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. Samsung has refused and continues to refuse to offer FRAND royalty terms, Apple said, a claim Samsung has denied.

The Australian dispute coincides with Apple’s bid to recoup most of the $410.5 million that U.S, District Judge Lucy Koh cut from the original $1.05 billion a jury in San Jose, California, awarded Apple for Samsung’s patent infringement. The do-over trial began yesterday in San Jose.

Litigation between the two companies began in the U.S. in April 2011, when Apple sued Samsung for “slavishly copying” its iPhone and iPad designs. It has since spread to France, Germany, Italy, U.K., South Korea, Japan and the Netherlands.

The Australian case is Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc. NSD315/2013. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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