Samsung hits back at Ericsson lawsuit
Files two complaints in Texas, accusing Swedish firm of behaving like a patent troll and breaching contracts
Published: 19 March, 2013
Samsung has responded to a lawsuit filed by Ericsson in November, hurling its own complaint at the Swedish vendor in the Eastern District of Texas.
Ericsson had accused the Korean firm of patent infringement in both the Texas court and the International Trade Commission after the two rivals failed to reach an agreement over renewing certain licensing deals. In December, Samsung retaliated by filing a complaint with the ITC, citing the licensing deals and seven patent claims, mainly related to LTE. Now it has added two Texas lawsuits to its attacks, one based on the same alleged IPR violations as in the ITC complaint and the other on eight other patents.
The new group of patents cited relates to a wide range of technologies including CMOS memory, semiconductors and various techniques for transmitting and receiving wireless communications. Samsung is also claiming breach of contract, accusing Ericsson of failing to respect FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) guidelines in their licensing deal. FRAND issues are increasingly commonly dragged into legal actions where the defendant has significant IPR that is essential to standards, as Ericsson does.
Some of the Ericsson patents involved relate to handset technologies - the firm retained its intellectual property rights even after selling its stake in smartphone maker Sony Ericsson to its Japanese partner. In addition, Samsung is becoming a viable competitor in the infrastructure space with its rising success in LTE networks and some of the IPR it cites relate to base station platforms.
Samsung uses aggressive language in its filings, and basically accuses its Swedish rival of behaving like a patent troll because it no longer has handsets, but still asserts the IPR. "Ericsson has recently jettisoned its mobile phone business and it now feels unhinged as a non-practicing entity in the mobile phone market to extort vastly unreasonable and discriminatory licence fees from Samsung under threat of product exclusion ... Ericsson's misguided actions epitomize the patent 'hold-up' problem that has been the recent subject of wide discussion within standard setting organizations and other authorities around the globe."
Such comment refer to many of the most controversial issues surrounding the current wireless patent wars - the rising influence of trolls, and the willingness of some major vendors to behave as trolls, in the sense of asserting patents which are not relevant to their actual products; whether firms with standards-essential patents are misusing the power that IPR brings them, with unfair licensing terms or charges; and whether holders of those essential patents should be allowed to use injunctions as threats.