Nokia backs Apple in legal skirmish against Samsung

Apple gets support from the Finnish phone maker in one of its many patent battles with Samsung.

Apple has finally found an ally in its fight for a sales ban of Samsung phones.

On Monday, Nokia filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington backing Apple in its bid for a permanent injunction of certain Samsung phones, Reuters reported yesterday.

Though the brief itself was sealed, a summary from Nokia said that the court was wrong to deny Apple's request.

Nokia attorney Keith Broyles argued that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., made a mistake when she said that Apple must show a "causal nexus," or a cause and effect, between the alleged patent violations and demand for its iPhone.

A copy of Nokia's brief found online presented the argument from Broyles:

The district court's ruling that in order to obtain a permanent injunction against an infringing competitor, a patent holder must also establish a "causal nexus" between the patented feature and the source of demand for the infringing product could cause wide-ranging damage to the United States patent protection landscape. By creating such a rule, the district court has diverged from the precedent of this court and could severely restrict, if not outright eliminate in some circumstances, the ability of a patent holder to obtain injunctive relief.

The case itself has gone through several twists and turns since last year.

In June 2012, Judge Koh granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone based on Apple's claims of patent infringement. Samsung appealed the ruling on July 1 . Koh denied Samsung's request to lift the temporary ban .

Samsung then took its case to the appeals court, which issued a temporary stay on the ban . On August 1, the appeals court extended that ban as it tried to reach a final verdict. The appeals court then registered its verdict , finding that the district court in California "abused its discretion" by imposing a preliminary injunction on Galaxy Nexus sales.

That decision then put the case back in Koh's courtroom to be reheard. In December, Koh denied Apple's motion for a permanent injunction, swinging the case back to the appeals court.

Why would Nokia get involved in this mess? The company could be eyeing a favorable judgment for Apple to use as ammunition in its own patent suits.

"Nokia has recently been involved in numerous U.S. patent lawsuits, as both a plaintiff and defendant," Broyles said. "Nokia is thus both a significant patent owner that might seek an injunction to protect its patent rights, and a manufacturer in an industry in which patent owners routinely issue threats of injunctions for patent infringement."

Samsung is due to file its own brief in the next several weeks, Reuters noted. Those who back Samsung's position will then be able to file their own briefs to the appeals court.

 

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