Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Further escalation: Ericsson throws in eight more patents against Samsung

The patent spat between Ericsson and Samsung, which started in late 2012 with a couple of Ericsson lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas and an ITC complaint, continues to escalate. Last month Samsung accused Ericsson of behaving like a patent troll and asserted eight additional patents in Texas. Late on Monday by local time, Ericsson responded to Samsung's allegations and counterclaims, and simultaneously asserted eight more patents against its Korean rival:

  1. U.S. Patent No. 6,029,125 on "Reducing Sparseness In Coded Speech Signals"

  2. U.S. Patent No. 6,031,832 on a "Method And Apparatus for Improving Performance Of A Packet Communications System"

  3. U.S. Patent No. 6,070,078 on "Reduced Global Positioning System Receiver Code Shift Search Space For A Cellular Telephone System"

  4. U.S. Patent No. 6,418,130 on "Reuse of Security Associations For Improving Hand-Over Performance"

  5. U.S. Patent No. 7,149,510 on a "Security Access Manager In Middleware"

  6. U.S. Patent No. 7,286,823 on a "Mobile Multimedia Engine"

  7. U.S. Patent No. 8,023,990 on "Uplink Scheduling In A Cellular System"

  8. U.S. Patent No. 8,214,710 on "Methods and apparatus for processing error control messages in a wireless communication system"

This appears to be a mix of standard-essential and non-standard-essential patents, just like Ericsson's previous sets of patent assertions against Samsung.

The leverage of a litigant is not just a question of the number of patents asserted: it's about their impact. But Ericsson is clearly sending out a message here that it is convinced of possessing a much broader and deeper patent portfolio in this field than Samsung, so it strives to always assert more patents against Samsung than the other way round.

This is Ericsson's official position on its new counter-conterclaims in Texas:

"Ericsson's commitment to the global support of technology and innovation is undisputed. It is unfair for Samsung to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology. In our response to Samsung's countersuit, we asserted more patents to further show our patent strength and our R&D investments in this area. We look forward to working with Samsung to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees."

I believe Samsung will be the net payer whe this dispute settles, and its payments will be substantial due to the size of its handset business. If the very high drop-out rate of Samsung's patent assertions against Apple is any indication, there's a discrepancy between the actual value of Samsung's wireless patents and the number of patents it has declared essential to certain standards.

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