Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Patent licensing firm IPCom announces settlement with LG while litigation against Samsung apparently continues

IPCom, a well-known patent licensing firm based in the Munich area, today announced on its website a settlement agreement with South Korea's LG Electronics. All infringement cases and validity challenges pending between the two have been withdrawn. IPCom's managing director Pio Suh is quoted in the press release as "confirm[ing] that LG and IPCom have finally reached a resolution that also includes all of IPCom's assets."

Several years ago it became known that an IPCom affiliate named FIPA was suing both Samsung and LG over patents formerly owned by Hitachi. Samsung was known to have licensed IPCom's former Bosch patents a long time ago, and the same may apply to LG. There is no indication at this stage of a settlement with Samsung.

In recent years, IPCom has achieved various settlements such as with HTC (after more than 12 years of litigation) and various telecommunications carriers. Its cases against Apple were also withdrawn. IPCom's current management has been consistently positioning the firm as a constructive and cooperative patent holder.

The reference in today's announcement to "all of IPCom's assets" suggests that LG is licensed not only to those IPCom patents that formerly belonged to Bosch and Hitachi but also to IPCom's "homegrown" patents. Starting in the middle of the last decade, IPCom started filing patent applications on its employees' inventions. The timing and the fields of technology make it a possibility that at least some of those patents are 5G-related. Should that be the case, some of the companies who took licenses from IPCom a long time ago may not be licensed to those younger patents, subject to what exactly the capture clauses of those license agreements say. So we may hear more from IPCom in the years ahead.

LG exited the smartphone market two years ago, but the settlement was likely about back royalties for the most part anyway. A license agreement between LG and InterDigital served as the primary point of reference when Justice Mellor made his recent InterDigital v. Lenovo FRAND determination.