Ericsson joins patent fray with lawsuit against Samsung

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Nobody likes to feel left out, and Ericsson has now decided to join the courtroom party by suing Samsung for patent infringement.

The company claims that Samsung has refused to renew a licensing agreement covering several hundred of Ericsson's mobile patents, covering everything from Wifi to LTE. The license was issued under Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Samsung previously licensed Ericsson's patents in 2001 and renewed them in 2007.

"Ericsson has over 30,000 patents and more than 100 license agreements with all major players in the industry," says Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson.

"Ericsson has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung and to sign a license agreement on FRAND terms. We have turned to litigation as a last resort."

Samsung's position is that Ericsson is now seeking excessive royalty payments, given that the patents concerned have been deemed standards-essential.

Samsung, of course, is already heavily embroiled in patent litigation with Apple. Last week, it added three new Apple devices to the list of products that it claims infringe its intellectual property. In August, though, it was ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion for infringing Apple's patents itself.

And this new move from Ericsson could strengthen Apple's hand considerably, says patent expert Florian Mueller.

"Samsung will now have to argue that Ericsson's demands, which were presumably not nearly as outrageous as what Samsung wanted Apple to pay, were outside the FRAND ballpark," he says.

"Ericsson's litigation forces Samsung to argue that FRAND rates should be low, while in the dispute with Apple, it takes the opposite position."