Ericsson files patent lawsuit against Samsung

[UPDATE] Swedish telecoms company takes legal action in the U.S. after Samsung allegedly refuses to sign a licensing agreement under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms despite a two-year negotiation.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Ericsson has filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the United States, accusing the Korean electronics giant for refusing to sign licensing agreements after two years of negotiations.

The Swedish telecoms company said in a statement Tuesday the suit involves one of its patented technologies which is "essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung's products", in addition to others including wireless and consumer electronics products.

Samsung had refused to take a license on Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms, which led Ericsson to take legal action after negotiations broke down, the statement read. FRAND licensing is used to license patents and technologies that have become essential, usually for an industry standard, and are designed to stop monopolies.

"Ericsson has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung. We have turned to litigation as a last resort," Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in the statement.

In comparision, major players in the industry have signed more than 100 license agreements with Ericsson and such agreements have helped create a successful global communications industry by driving scale and creating low barriers of entry for players, which Ericsson is fully supportive of, the statement noted.

The complaint was filed at the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, U.S., but the firm is unable to disclose the amount it is seeking in damages, Stephanie Huf, Ericsson's regional vice president of communications told ZDNet.

When contacted, a Samsung spokesperson said, "Samsung and Ericsson have previously negotiated and entered licensing deals. Now that the deal has to be renewed, we have faithfully committed ourselves to conducting fair and reasonable negotiations with Ericsson over the past two years, but this time Ericsson has demanded significantly higher royalty rates for the same patent portfolio. As we cannot accept such extreme demands, we will take all necessary legal measures to protect against Ericsson's excessive claims."

Ericsson is the latest company to file a lawsuit against the Korean electronics giant. A California jury in August ruled Samsung Electronics infringed Apple's design and utility patents for some of its products and awarded the latter US$1.05 billion in damages.

Samsung, however, also is currently pursuing an existing patent lawsuit against the Cupertino-based company and earlier this week added three Apple devices the iPad mini, the new iPad 4 and the fifth-generation iPod touch to its claim.

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