Ericsson is the latest to file a patent suit against Samsung after the Swedish telecoms firm accused the Korean electronics giant of refusing to sign FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licensing agreements despite two years of negotiation.
Update: Samsung has issued a statement on the lawsuit, you can read it below.
“Ericsson has concluded that it has no option other than legal action after negotiations have not been successful since Samsung has refused to take a license on FRAND terms,” a company statement read.
The company says that the issue centers around one of its patented technologies that is “essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung’s products”, in addition to other technologies that it claims are used in wireless and consumer electronics products.
FRAND licensing is typically used to license patents and technologies that have become essential, often for or as an industry standard. They are designed to stop monopolies, the idea being that a FRAND licensed technology can be offered to any company or group wanting to use it.
The growth of patent suits has added complication to FRAND licensing and Apple, for one, has reached out to industry bodies for greater clarification and change. In a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in February, it is said to have proposed suggestions to set royalty rates that all members of the ETSI would follow, in response to cases where inflated and unreasonable terms and prices have been proposed by patent owners.
Samsung was on the receiving end of a landmark decision when a US court decision handed it a fine of more than $1 billion after Apple won a key U.S. patent case. The Cupertino firm itself suffered a significant recent loss and $368 million fine as patent specialist VirtnetX won a Texas case against it, but Apple did end its ongoing feud with HTC as the two signed a 10-year licensing agreement this month.
Samsung told media it has no intention of striking a similar deal, despite the threat of US sales injunctions looming. Now it has one further case to concern itself with.
Update: Samsung has responded with the following statement (note Samsung later sent us an updated statement which is below – the earlier version used the word ‘prohibitively’ in place of ‘significantly’):
“Samsung and Ericsson have previously negotiated and entered licensing deals. Now that the deal has to be renewed, we have faithfully committed ourselves to conducting fair and reasonable negotiations with Ericsson over the past two years, but this time Ericsson has demanded significantly higher royalty rates for the same patent portfolio.
“As we cannot accept such extreme demands, we will take all necessary legal measures to protect against Ericsson’s excessive claims.”
Headline image via JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images