SK Hynix to battle patent trolls with cross-licensing deals

South Korean chipmaker says it's willing to sign licensing deals with competitors as a form of "peace purchase" and to reduce legal disputes, in light of rising lawsuits from patent trolls.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
SK Hynix says it has fewer products but with mass-manufacturing capabilities, so it can be affected by litigation issues.

SK Hynix says it is keen to sign cross-licensing deals with competitors to minimize legal patent disputes and focus more on its core business.

Min Kyung-hyun, head of the chipmaker's intellectual property dvision, told The Korea Times on Tuesday it was ready to battle with any patent trolls which file lawsuits for opportunistic purposes.

Patent trolling typically involves acquiring patents from parties which own intellectual licensing rights but do not intend to produce a product or provide a service covered by the patent.

SK Hynix said it was also open to cross-licensing deals to limit such legal disputes. 

"We are a company that have fewer products but with mass-manufacturing capabilities, [so] we can be affected by litigation issues. Licensing is a good way to limit this," Min said.

This comes after the chipmaking affiliate of SK Group signed a cross-licensing deal with rival Samsung Electronics last week, giving it access to Samsung's memory chip patents while Samsung can use SK Hynix's patents. The agreement was "no surprise", Min said.

The home-ground of patent trolling is in the United States, he said, noting that the company was closely monitoring their moves by consulting with lawyers and conducting its own analysis. SK Hynix is also finetuning its strategies to combat patent claim abuse over next-generation chips, he added.

"Patent trolling will definitely come," Min said, and added that money is the top consideration when it comes to licensing and the settlement is an action to "purchase peace".

The company also saw a steep rise in the various patterns of litigation issues claimed by patent trolls, he noted. "SK Hynix is one of the few survivors in the industry, meaning that it is inevitable for us to face off against patent trolls. Ironically, the industry's new paradigm urges us to prepare better for patent disputes," Min said.

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