Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Samsung says Ericsson behaves like a patent troll, countersues over 8 more patents in Texas

Late on Monday by local time Samsung finally responded to Ericsson's federal patent infringement lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas. Ericsson filed two federal complaints against Samsung in late November 2012, one of which mirrors Ericsson's near-simultaneous ITC complaint against Samsung. In December Samsung brought a retaliatory ITC complaint against Ericsson over seven mostly 4G/LTE-related patents. They are furthermore accusing each other of failure to comply with their FRAND licensing obligations. Their royalty demands are confidential, for now at least.

Samsung obtained an extension of time to respond to Ericsson's Texas lawsuits. It has now responded, and it also brought counterclaims. In the companion lawsuit to Ericsson's ITC case it asserted the same patents as in its own ITC complaint. In the other Texas lawsuit it asserted eight other patents:

  1. U.S. Patent No. 6,147,385 on "CMOS Static Random Access Memory Devices"

  2. U.S. Patent No. 6,777,812 on "Semiconductor Devices Having Protected Plug Contacts And Upper Interconnections"

  3. U.S. Patent No. 8,031,688 on "Partitioning Of Frequency Resources For Transmission Of Control Signals And Data Signals In SC-FDMA Communication Systems"

  4. U.S. Patent No. 8,139,550 on an "Apparatus And Method For Transmitting ACK/NACK Messages In A Wireless Communication System"

  5. U.S. Patent No. 8,169,986 on a "Method And Apparatus For Transmitting And Receiving System Information In A Mobile Communication System"

  6. U.S. Patent No. 8,179,780 on a "Method And Apparatus For Transmitting And Receiving Control Information To Randomize Inter-Cell Interference In A Mobile Communication System"

  7. U.S. Patent No. 8,379,738 on "Methods And Apparatus To Improve Performance And Enable Fast Decoding Of Transmissions With Multiple Code Blocks"

  8. U.S. Patent No. 8,386,878 on "Methods And Apparatus To Compute CRC For Multiple Code Blocks"

Samsung's key FRAND counterclaim is breach of contract. Samsung is at this point not asking the court to set a FRAND rate for a license agreement with Ericsson.

Both Samsung filings contain some aggressive rhetoric. Samsung is basically saying that Ericsson decided to become a patent troll in the mobile handset business after it exited that market (when it sold its stake in Sony-Ericsson to Sony):

"[...] Ericsson has recently jettisoned its mobile phone business and it now feels unhinged as a non-practicing entity in the mobile phone market to extort vastly unreasonable and discriminatory license fees from Samsung under threat of product exclusion resulting from a simultaneously filed complaint in the U.S. International Trade Commission ('ITC'). Ericsson's misguided actions epitomize the patent 'hold up' problem that has been the recent subject of wide discussion within standard-setting organizations and other authorities around the globe [...]"

"Ericsson seeks to dismantle the standard-setting framework with unreasonable and discriminatory license demands from a willing licensee under threat of product exclusion."

The NPE-related part may not be too helpful in the very district in which most U.S. NPE lawsuits are filed.

If you'd like to be updated on the smartphone patent disputes and other intellectual property matters I cover, please subscribe to my RSS feed (in the right-hand column) and/or follow me on Twitter @FOSSpatents and Google+.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: