The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Not quite: Apple and Verizon enjoy a healthy partnership, no thanks in part to the 2.3 million iPhones activated on the network in the second quarter of this year alone.
But don't assume that this business relationship makes the two companies effectively allies. Verizon has jumped into the ongoing patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, asking the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to deny Apple's request for a preliminary injunction in the matter. Such an injunction would otherwise prohibit Samsung from selling four of its Android products while the patent dispute plays out in the courts, which includes the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1.
"[The injunction] would hinder Verizon Wireless in developing and deploying its next generation high-speed LTE network, the job growth dependant [sic] on that network, and will undercut key public policy goals, including expansion of American's [sic] access to broadband networks and faster communication with emergency personnel," reads Verizon's motion for leave, a request that asks for the court's permission to file an official amicus curiae brief.
In short, Verizon argues that it's invested billions of dollars into its 4G LTE network, but the caveat is that there are currently very few devices on the market that can actually tap into the new service. Samsung is one of the six manufacturers that sell these devices, and Verizon argues that limiting the company's ability to get early adopters access to Verizon's LTE network would be akin to a snowball rolling down a hill: Fewer early adopters would result in fewer people to convince mainstream audiences to move to LTE devices, ultimately hindering Verizon's ability to develop and deploy what it's spent a lot of time and money building.
"Moreover, the motion to enjoin Samsung's devices comes at a critical moment: when Verizon Wireless is expanding its LTE network to paying customers and right before the holiday shopping season."
According to FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, Verizon's brief only actually concerns one of the four intellectual property claims that Apple's alleging Samsung violated: Apple's software patent claim related to scrolling through information on a touchscreen display, or U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381.
"The claims of the '381 patent are so clear that in recent litigation between Apple and Nokia Corporation, neither side asked the court to construe any terms," wrote Apple in its original motion for a preliminary injunction. "A simple demonstration proves that Samsung's products infringe."
That said, a preliminary injunction issued on this single claim wouldn't much stop Samsung from selling its devices: There are plenty of ways to scroll content on a phone or tablet, and Samsung could easily tweak the software on its devices in order to keep them on the market while the primary lawsuit churns forward.