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Apple accuses Samsung of violating court order, withholding source code in U.S. suit

by Phil Hornshaw

Samsung and Apple continue their worldwide court battle royale over device patents. The latest shot has been fired by Apple in U.S. courts claiming that Samsung hasn’t complied with court orders there.

According to a story from Bloomberg, Samsung hasn’t released source code for devices as it was ordered to do by a judge in the case. Apple is suing Samsung in California over device patents for several of its products over several alleged patent infringements, and the court ordered Samsung to release source code to Apple on several of those devices for analysis, with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2011. Apple filed with the court yesterday, claiming Samsung had released its source code for only one version of each device.

Apple says that’s going to make it impossible for it to prepare adequately for when expert reports are due in the case, which is in the next few weeks. Since Samsung didn’t release the code, Apple argues it won’t be able to prepare its patent infringement claims in time, and accuses Samsung of withholding evidence.

It sounds convoluted, and it is. Apple and Samsung are fighting bitter patent battles all over the world, and while there have been a few blows struck, there haven’t been any clear victories. In the U.S., Apple was recently denied a preliminary injunction against Samsung and its products that would have barred Samsung devices from sale in the country while the patent claims were being investigated. But in Europe, Apple won more than one temporary injunction against Samsung. In Germany, Samsung released an alternate version of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 to win court approval to sell the device after an injunction from Apple.

Meanwhile, Samsung has gotten some legal backlash in Europe for countering Apple’s design suits by using patents it holds for 3G technology. Holders of key industry patents have to comply with FRAND, or fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory rules, when licensing those patents to other members of their industry. It basically means that Samsung can’t hold patents everyone needs and then pick and choose which companies it lets use them.

For its part, Apple’s cases have fallen apart in a few venues, the U.S. included. Judges have hinted that Apple’s infringement cases may not be as strong as the company believes, but the war rages on. Bloomberg estimates there are at least 40 suits on five continents currently being fought between the two companies.

As for the current filing, Apple is asking a judge to rule that Samsung can’t rely on the source code it didn’t give to Apple when defending against infringement claims. Samsung hasn’t replied to requests for comments to give its side of the story yet, but it seems that regardless, the Android device maker and the iPad maker are going to be continuing their legal battles for some time.