Apple Must Reveal Australia Mobile-Phone Contracts to Samsung, Judge Rules
Apple Inc. must provide Samsung Electronics Co. with its contracts with Australian mobile-phone carriers as the South Korean company demanded in a patent dispute with the iPhone maker, a judge ruled.
Apple needs to produce agreements it has with Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), SingTel Optus Ltd. and Telstra Corp., should the Cupertino, California-based company fail to agree on an assertion in Samsung’s patent lawsuit that the carriers are contractually obliged to subsidize iPhone sales, Australia Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett ordered today.
Samsung sued Apple in Australia, claiming the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 infringe its patents and is seeking a ban on the sale of the devices in the country. Bennett ruled the contracts with the phone operators are relevant to Samsung’s case. Apple said it would oppose the disclosure and suggested it was a speculative effort to find damaging information.
“We will resist any attempts by our friends to push us into a corner” on the subsidies, Apple’s lawyer Andrew Fox told the judge. “This is quite clearly a fishing expedition.”
The Samsung lawsuit, filed Sept. 19, was in response to Apple’s request for a court order barring the sale of the Galaxy Tablet 10.1 in Australia, claiming the device infringed Apple’s patents. Bennett granted Apple’s request for an injunction on Oct. 13.
The Australian dispute is part of a wider battle between the two companies that spans four continents and began in April when Apple sued in the U.S., claiming Samsung’s products “slavishly” copied the designs of iPhones and iPads.
In the Australian suit, Samsung also sought the source code for the iPhone 4S firmware to support its case that Apple infringes its patents for wireless transmissions. Apple has turned over 220 pages of documents relating to the source code, Fox said.
Samsung said the source-code disclosure wasn’t enough because a file was missing. The company sought an order for Apple to produce the documents.
“Someone out there is attempting to obfuscate,” Samsung’s lawyer Cynthia Cochrane told the judge.
Bennett deferred judgment on Samsung’s request for the additional source-code material and said she would deal with it on Nov. 11, if the two sides can’t reach an agreement in the meantime.
The case is: Apple Inc. (AAPL) v. Samsung Electronics Co. NSD1243/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).
To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at email@example.com