Ericsson starts new patent war, sues Samsung after 2 years of failed negotiations

November 28, 2012
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Remember Ericsson, the Swedish-based telecommunications equipment provider that recently sold its share of the joint venture with Sony? No, the company’s not making a comeback in the world of phone manufacturing, but it does plan to get back under our radar with a very familiar “strategic” move.

Ericsson is suing Samsung for alleged patent infringement after two years of negotiations that haven’t led to an amicable agreement. The subject of dispute is still somewhat unclear, but, according to Sony’s former partner, everything revolves around a patented technology that is “essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung’s products”.

We can’t know for sure what technology Ericsson refers to, because the company has an outrageously rich portfolio of over 30,000 patents and more than 100 license agreements with major telecom players. What is clear is that Samsung refused to sign a FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) agreement over the respective patent.

A FRAND agreement between Samsung and Ericsson had been previously signed, according to Cnet, back in 2001, and renewed several times, the last being in 2007. The deal had expired in 2010 and ever since then the two companies have been negotiating their hearts out with no happy outcome.

But what exactly has jammed the “amicable” discussions this time around? Why, money, of course.

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”

That’s Samsung full statement on the matter, issued exclusively to the guys over at The Next Web (note that the first “draft” used the word “prohibitively” instead of “significantly”).

Meanwhile, Ericsson mentioned nothing about the financial aspect of the negotiations between the two giants, claiming only that it “has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung and sign a license agreement on FRAND terms” and that it turned “to litigation as a last resort”.

I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like either another witch-hunt similar to the one conducted by Apple or simply a desperate measure from a falling tech company to draw in money from whatever sources possible. I know, it’s not like Ericsson is on the verge of bankruptcy, being still the world’s largest mobile telecommunications equipment maker, but the latest financial reports haven’t exactly been rosy.

And while I’m pretty certain Ericsson is entitled to some kind of financial compensation from Samsung (after all, they did sign FRAND agreements before), I can’t help but feel they’re trying to rip off Sammy. Especially now that the company can’t really afford to engage in another patent war with the one against Apple being so feisty and heated.

That’s just my two cents on the matter, but feel free to disagree with me in the comments section below. Do you think this new dispute can turn into another full-fledged patent war? Or will Samsung and Ericsson strike a deal outside of court?

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