Apple’s (AAPL) Heavely Redacted Licensing Pact with HTC Published by Samsung

When Apple (AAPL) and Taiwan-based HTC Corp reached a surprise licensing deal on Nov. 10 that ended a two-year legal struggle over mobile patents across several countries, the two companies provided little in the way of details on the agreement.

Now, thanks to a court motion that was filed late last month by Samsung to compel Apple to reveal details of the HTC settlement, and the subsequent granting of that motion this week by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, the public will learn at least a little more.

According to a heavily redacted version of the 143-page agreement, put by Samsung into public view for reasons we can only speculate about, both sides have agreed on a non-exclusive, non-sublicensable, and non-transferable license to some of each others’ patents. Apple has also agreed not to sue HTC over certain covered products, though the specific products are redacted.

The agreement also seems to have provisions that exclude any of Apple’s design patents and nine specified HTC patents as well as coverage for any products that are defined as copying an Apple product.

FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller (via Techcrunch) has posted an analysis focusing on the scope of the settlement:

“The rubber-banding (’381) patent can’t be worked around without losing its key benefit, but it obviously doesn’t cover other (inferior) forms of scrolling on a multi-touch device, such as the “blue glow”. For tap-to-zoom it appears that infringement of the ’163 patent can be avoided without any significant impact on usability. An injunction over this patent would be next to meaningless apart from a purely symbolical significance. The tricky part is the pinch-to-zoom API (’915) patent. As I predicted, Apple is disputing that Samsung’s purported workaround steers clear of infringement.”

On Aug. 24, a U.S. jury found that Samsung must pay Apple over $1 billion for infringing several of its patents. Legal experts believe the question of which patents are covered by the Apple-HTC 10-year joint licensing agreement for all current and future patents from both companies, could be crucial in Samsung’s efforts against an Apple-sought ban of eight Samsung products in the U.S.

(h/t All Things D)

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