Apple gets Microsoft, Oracle, Intel as allies against Samsung in iPhone ban

Apple, Samsung spar over 'reasonable' licensing fees for 'standard essential patents'

The Business Software Alliance, which includes the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and Intel, has come out in support of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in its iPhone patent battle with Samsung before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.

As FierceMobileIT reported last month, the ITC ruled that a number of iPhone and iPad models sold by AT&T infringed Samsung's patents and should be subject to a U.S. import ban. The specific models were the iPhone 4, 3GS, and 3, as well as the iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G. Peter Cohan, a contributor to Forbes, predicted that the U.S. import ban, if imposed, could cost Apple $1 billion in revenue.

The ITC's decision is subject to a 60-day presidential review period, which expires on Aug. 4. Pressure is mounting from U.S. companies, particularly AT&T (NYSE: T), as well as from within the administration to reverse the ITC's ruling, although an ITC ruling has not been vetoed since 1987, noted the Journal. At issue are "standard essential patents"--patents that cover technology that is incorporated into industry-wide standards. Usually, holders of these patents are required by law to license them on reasonable terms.

In its defense, Apple said it offered to pay a "reasonable" licensing fee for the technology covered by the Samsung standard, but that Samsung was not willing to agree to the terms. Apple is arguing that imposing an import ban on the mobile devices at issue would enable other companies holding standard essential patents to demand excessive licensing fees, according to the newspaper.

Samsung is disputing Apple's charges. "Samsung has never offensively used its patents, essential or not, to keep competitors out of the market," it said in a filing with the U.S. Trade Representative. The ITC agreed, ruling that Samsung's licensing terms were reasonable, the Journal noted.

Apple and Samsung have been engaged for years in patent battles over smartphone technology. Last year, Apple won a $1 billion award from a jury in a patent infringement case against Samsung, which is appealing the award.  Earlier this year, a judge vacated $450 million of the award and ordered a new trial on the patents covered by that amount.

For more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the ITC notice

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