December 12, 2011 - Apple has signed a cross-licensing deal with a company called Digitude Innovations, a non-practicing entity (NPE) that recently filed suit against several of Apple's competitors at the International Trade Commission. The deal gives Apple immunity from a Digitude lawsuit while providing Digitude with more ammunition to pursue Apple's rivals.
In its infringement filing at the ITC (see it here in a PDF file), Digitude targeted Motorola, HTC, RIM, Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Amazon. Two of the four patents it claims are infringed by the smartphone giants were transferred to it from Apple earlier this year.
It's not clear how involved Apple is in Digitude's litigation against its rivals, because Digitude is still a separate company backed by private equity firm Altitude Capital Partners and also because large parts of Digitude's ITC filing were redacted upon Digitude's request. But with Apple fighting for market share in the smartphone market, Apple's deal with Digitude will likely benefit the company by giving it immunity from at least one lawsuit while indirectly making life harder for its competitors.
The deal with Digitude, however, is just one part of the bigger picture in the smartphone wars, and Apple doesn't always prevail: A German court ruled on December 9 that Apple's iPhone and iPad devices infringe one of Motorola's data communication patents. The judge awarded unspecified damages going back to 2003 and granted an injunction on sales of Apple's mobile devices in Germany; Apple plans to immediately appeal the ruling. And Apple suffered a setback in its ongoing litigation with Samsung in Australia when, also on December 9, the temporary sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet expired and the iPad competitor could once more be sold in Australia.