USITC joins ongoing Ericsson v Samsung dispute


Alex Baldwin

USITC joins ongoing Ericsson v Samsung dispute

Trygve Finkelsen /

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched an investigation into Samsung regarding alleged infringements of Swedish company Ericsson’s wireless technology patents.

Ericsson’s complaint filed with the USITC seeks a limited exclusion order and cease and desist order targeting the South Korea-based Samsung, if it is found to have been importing and selling products infringing on Ericsson patents in the US. The notice was filed on February 2.

The patents involved are US numbers 7,151,430, 6,879,849, 7,286,823 and 9,313,178. The ‘430, ‘849 and ‘178 patents reference encryption and mobile communications technologies patented by Ericsson in 2004, 2002 and 2012 respectively.

The USITC’s investigation follows a complaint filed by Ericsson in January at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, claiming Samsung’s networking technology infringes six other patents.

International dispute

This investigation marks the latest development in an ongoing dispute between the two companies, spanning several suits, countries, and courts.

Currently, Ericsson is suing Samsung in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands over patent infringement.

In December last year, Ericsson accused Samsung of not negotiating in good-faith and breaching its fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations, leading the Swedish company to file a suit in Texas.

Both parties are also fighting over whether a court in Wuhan should be the one to set the global royalty rates for Ericcson’s standard-essential 4G and 5G patents.

Global royalty rate rulings are not unprecedented in the technology market. Last August, the UK Supreme Court ruled that its judges were able to set global royalty rates for telecom technology. This decision affirmed that Chinese telecom company Huawei would have to either pay a US patent owner a global rate, or face limits on Huawei’s sales in the UK.

The legal battles stem back to a prior cross-licencing agreement between the two parties established in 2014. When the contract expired, both parties had failed to settle on new contract terms.

The companies resolved that dispute after two years, with Samsung paying Ericsson $650 million.

Hogan Lovells senior counsel Theodore Essex discussed the Ericsson v Samsung situation during a recent edition of WIPR Patents Live.

Essex said he thought it was wrong for any national court to set global royalty rates.

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Standard-essential patents, US International Trade Commission, Ericsson, Samsung, wireless patents, telecommunications, FRAND