Samsung has used a crafty legal maneuver
in an attempt to gain access to Apple's iOS source code, claiming that -- after suing Apple in South Korea
for allegedly infringing on one of its patents -- it will need to see the source code in order to verify that the infringement took place. While in most courts this would be called a "fishing expedition," Samsung is on home territory in South Korean courts, where it scored its only significant patent victory
against Apple in its ongoing legal complaints.
Apple's attorneys were unsurprisingly vehement
in their response, calling the filing "insane" and "ridiculous," adding that the request "doesn't make any sense." Samsung is claiming that Apple's Notification Center -- a feature that bears strong resemblance to an earlier implementation of a similar feature on a variety of Android phones -- infringes on one of its own patents. Apple says that the technology was in wide use in other companies' phones before it appeared on Samsung devices, and that a patent on similar technology actually belongs to Google
Samsung told the court that it would be "impossible" to confirm Apple's alleged infringement without the source code, but attorneys for the iPad maker strongly signalled that there was no chance of Cupertino giving up "our most important data" in response to such a transparent request. The court asked if Apple could provide software designers and engineers from the iOS team for testimony, but Apple has thus far refused the request. Motorola and Google, in separate cases, have also requested the source code
using the same reasoning.
Samsung has claimed in court that it patented the technology in 2006 -- years before any implementations appeared on Samsung phones, and five years before Apple began including it with iOS 5. Apple has refuted the claim, which was originally filed this past December. The court has not yet ruled on the matter, nor announced when its judgement might come. Apple and Samsung are involved in more than 40 legal cases in courts across four continents.
The Galaxy S III maker is currently being investigated by the European Commission, US International Trade Commission and South Korea's own Fair Trade Commission
for various infringements of other companies' patents as well as abusing standards-essential patents (SEPs) by using them as legal weapons to hinder competition rather than license them fairly and equally as the law requires. The ITC recently found that Samsung had infringed on four of Apple's non-SEP patents, but so far has not sided with Samsung on any of its patent complaints against Apple -- though the ITC ruling will be reviewed again
by a full six-judge panel.