PARIS – Ericsson said Tuesday (Nov. 27) it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against Samsung for infringing the Swedish telecom company's patents.
The companies have been in negotiations for nearly two years over Samsung’s renewal of licensing agreements on Ericsson's patented technology “essential to telecommunication and wireless standards,” and the Swedish company’s other inventions that are “frequently implemented in wireless and consumer electronics products," Ericsson said.
Samsung initially licensed Ericsson's patents in 2001, renewing in 2007, but its license has now expired. Talks between the two giants have broken down despite efforts involving senior management at both companies. “We now see no choice other than legal action. This is our last resort,” Kasim Alfalahi (below), chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in an interview.
Ericsson is known to have a large number of patents covering global communications standards, including GSM, GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, LTE and 802.11. “We invest very heavily in R&D -- $5 billion in 2011 alone,” said Alfalahi, “which result in more than 30,000 patents we own.” These patents are broadly used in a variety of connected devices, including tablets and mobile phones.
For LTE, Ericsson holds “around 25 percent” of essential patents, claimed Alfalahi. “We bet on LTE from early on, instead of WiMax, which allowed us to make significant contributions” to the telecommunication standard.
The telecommunication industry has not established an LTE patent pool that allows for a one-stop licensing shop. Alfalahi said patent pools may work for narrower technologies that apply to a niche field, but when dealing with a wide portfolio of key telecom technologies, the preferred option is negotiations among individual companies.