Monday, December 05, 2011

Going thermonuclear, or not? Apple offered patent deal to Samsung in 2010

You might think that since Steve Jobs said he wanted to "destroy Android," that there would be no way that Apple would choose to license any patents to an Android OEM, but apparently that's not the case. The Verge has learned that back in November of 2010, Apple offered to license the patent for a feature known as "scrollback" to Samsung.

Indeed, while some have wondered if Apple's stance on Android might soften somewhat now that Steve Jobs has passed away, that offer took place while the former Apple CEO was still leading the company. Apple has already licensed the patent, #7,469,381, to both Nokia and IBM.

Scrollback refers to a feature which shows users the background of an app when they scroll past its edge. The revelation came via text behind blacked-out portions of a court order issued by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California late on Friday, one which denied Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung.

Apple sought the injunction against a number of Samsung's Android devices, both tablet and smartphone, which the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said are essentially blatant copies of iDevices.

Koh said that allowing Samsung's Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices to remain on sale would not harm Apple enough to justify an injunction [it's unclear if Koh is into technology enough that she knows that all of those except perhaps the Galaxy Tab 10.1 have been supplanted in consumers' minds by newer devices]. Koh added that such an injunction would likely benefit other OEMs at the expense of Samsung.
What's unclear is why a deal fell apart, if licensing of the patent was offered to Samsung. It could be that although a deal was offered, the licensing fees that was presented were exorbitant. We'll probably never know the actual reason.

The fact that there was what seems to be honest-to-goodness negotiation between the two parties, even while "willing to go thermonuclear" Steve Jobs was still CEO of Apple, could mean things could still work out amicably, or relatively so, between the two parties.

We'll have to wait and see.

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