Samsung asks court for Apple ban in EU

Samsung is using some of its patents to try get Apple’s iPads and iPhones banned in the Netherlands.

The move is a counter attack to Apple getting Samsung’s products banned from the EU and Australia.

According to Reuters  Samsung has filed four patent cases against Apple in The Hague and asked for a preliminary injunction against all of Apple’s mobile products that use 3G technology, including iPhones and iPads.

If the injunction is granted it will include the iPhone 5 when it comes out in October and could dent Apple’s success story in the EU.

A Dutch judge will rule by 14 October on Samsung’s bid to ban the sale, distribution and import of Apple iPhones and iPads in the Netherlands, ahead of the next four separate patent cases due to run through to November 17 in The Hague.

It seems that Apple forgot to ask for a licence fee for some of Samsung’s patents before it started selling iPhones in 2007, according to the South Korean company.

However, Apple said that Samsung never demanded a licence until 2010 and before that Samsung remained silent because Apple is an important customer.

In other words, Samsung turned a blind eye and only changed its mind when Apple started demanding its products were taken off the shelves. Apple seems to think that others will continue to play nice while it sues them into a coma.

There is some evidence that the manufacturers are starting to rally around to use their patents against Apple. Some of these patents are important for industrial standards such as 3G and UMTS technology.

This opens another can of worms for the rest of the industry. If standards are set, then patent approval should be automatic. Patent expert Florian Mueller said all handset makers implement what is known as “FRAND” (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) standards and rely on those licensing commitments.

If manufacturers are allowed to refuse Apple licences on patents that are part of industry standards they could be seen as operating a cartel and shutting down competition. However, they can equally argue that Apple’s use of patents is doing exactly the same thing and Jobs’ Mob is trying to prop up its monopoly on tablets.

There is a very real problem for Apple that it might see its flagship products banned from at least parts of the EU. This risk seems to outweigh any benefit that Apple might have gotten from its attempt to shut down Samsung.

Despite the fact Apple is seeing its patent troll strategy starting to slip away from it, it is continuing to fight on. Yesterday Apple sought an injunction in Australia to ban the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet, asserting three patents have been infringed. Another hearing is set to happen in Oz on Thursday.