Ericsson launches fresh patent suit at Samsung


Muireann Bolger

Ericsson launches fresh patent suit at Samsung

Trygve Finkelsen /

Ericsson has escalated its dispute with Samsung, after it lodged a new complaint against the tech company alleging patent infringement.

In the complaint filed on January 15 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the Swedish telecoms company claimed that Samsung’s networking gear infringes six of its patents.

The patents-in-suit, US numbers 8,301,149; 9,037,166; 9,107,082; 9,509,605; 9,692,682; and 10,172,066 cover ways to improve call quality, an antenna arrangement, and a method to deal with handover failures.

According to the suit, the South Korean company’s eNB (LTE) and Massive MIMO, technology, which improves the efficiency of networks, incorporate the claims of the patents.

Ericsson also filed a complaint at the US International Trade Commission in Washington, in a bid to bar imports of Samsung communications infrastructure systems.

Dispute over FRAND terms

This move by Ericsson is the latest in a bitter dispute waged between the companies.

In 2014, Samsung and Ericsson executed a multi-year agreement and, last year, in advance of the expiration of the existing cross-licence, Ericsson attempted to negotiate with Samsung to gain a new licence.

But Ericsson held that Samsung refused to accept Ericsson’s proposed offer and instead provided a counteroffer that showed that Samsung was “not negotiating in good faith towards a cross-licence” on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

“Instead, Samsung insisted it would only be willing to a cross-licence if Ericsson agreed to accept a royalty for Ericsson’s essential patents significantly below FRAND rates,” said the complaint.

Ericsson announced that the potential legal costs and delayed royalty payments could reduce its operating income by SEK1-1.5 billion ($118-$177 million) per quarter beginning in the first quarter of this year.

In a suit filed Friday, December 11, at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Ericsson accused Samsung of violating contractual commitments to negotiate in good faith and to license patents on FRAND terms and conditions.

Ericsson sought a declaration that it has complied with its FRAND commitment and that Samsung has breached them.

Anti-interference injunction

Earlier this month, a Texas federal judge issued an anti-interference injunction against Samsung, in a win for Ericsson.

Samsung is suing Ericsson at a court in Wuhan, China, and had urged the Chinese court to set a global royalty rate for Ericsson’s 4G and 5G standard-essential patents SEPs on FRAND terms.

However the federal court in Texas ordered Samsung to take “no action in the Chinese action that would interfere with this court’s jurisdiction to determine whether Ericsson or Samsung have met or breached their FRAND obligations as they relate to both Ericsson and Samsung’s 4G and 5G SEPs, or that would interfere with any other cause of action before this court.”

Back in 2012, Ericsson accused Samsung of infringing 24 standard-essential patents covering technologies related to wireless communications.

The companies resolved their dispute after two years, with Samsung paying Ericsson $650 million, alongside years of royalties.

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Ericsson, Samsung, patent infringement, USITC, Texas, FRAND, licence