Samsung has secured two separate patent licensing agreements with Google and Ericsson as the company reportedly prefers to avoid costly battles in court and foster cooperation within the industry instead. In both cases the out-of-court settlement involves multi-year access to each other’s patent portfolio.
Samsung’s falling-out with Ericsson dates back to November 2012, when Ericsson sued Samsung for refusing to renew a patent licensing deal for telecommunications technology. The two originally signed a patent deal in 2001 and renewed it in 2007, but pricing disagreements impeded a third agreement. At the time, Ericsson accused Samsung of refusing to license standard-essential patents to Ericsson on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms in an attempt to drastically reduce what it pays Ericsson for its licenses.
Samsung countersued and Ericsson turned to the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking a U.S. imports ban of Samsung products. The ITC was expected to issue its ruling early this year. As part of their deal, Samsung has agreed to pay Ericsson an initial $650 million as well as royalty payments thereafter.
Meanwhile, the deal with Google didn’t originate from any patent disputes between the two, but rather as a means to work together more closely, reduce the potential for litigation and focus on innovation. Financial terms of the deal remain confidential but the end result is a 10-year cross-licensing agreement giving each company access to existing and future patents covering a “range of technologies and business areas”.
The deal also aims to send out a message to the rest of the industry that “there is more to gain from co-operating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.” That’s clearly a reference not only to the ongoing disputes with Apple, but many other big names in the industry using their patent portfolios to wage war on rivals.
On that note, Apple and Samsung’s court battle dating back to 2011 is set to resume in March. The two have agreed to a mediation session to be attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon as well as their respective in-house lawyers, on or before February 19 to discuss settlement opportunities.