Samsung Electronics has sought a ban on the import and sales of some Ericsson products in the US which it claims infringe its patents.
In a complaint filed with the International Trade Commission (ITC), Samsung has accused Ericsson of breaching seven of its patents.
The move counters Ericsson’s complaint to the ITC, made in November, seeking a sales ban on some Samsung products.
Ericsson has also claimed that Samsung infringed some of its patents.
The Swedish firm had a licensing deal with Samsung under which the South Korean manufacturer was allowed to use various technologies patented by Ericsson in its products.
However, the two firms have failed to renew the agreement, despite negotiating for almost two years.
Ericsson has claimed that Samsung wants to reduce the fee it pays to license the said patents, while Samsung has argued that the fee demanded by Ericsson is too high.
Samsung Electronics has sought a ban on the import and sales of some Ericsson products in the US which it claims infringe its patents
“We have sought to negotiate with Ericsson in good faith. However, Ericsson has proven unwilling to continue such negotiations by making unreasonable claims, which it is now trying to enforce in court,” Samsung said in a statement.
“Under such circumstances, we have no choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our company.”
Ericsson is one of the earliest innovators in the telecommunications field and holds thousands of patents for technologies used in everyday global communication.
Some of these technologies are key to products made by other manufacturers such as Samsung.
Companies which hold patents to such essential technologies enter licensing agreements with other manufacturers allowing them the use of patents under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions.
Firms pay royalties to the patent holder to use the technology.
Ericsson earned $938 million last year in revenue from more than 100 licence agreements with companies in the industry.
However, stiff competition has lead to a much more protective stance by many companies over their patents in order to generate revenues.
Earlier this month, European Union competition regulators accused Samsung of abusing its position of holding key patents, while trying to negotiate royalty rates with rival Apple.
Meanwhile, Nokia and Apple have also taken rivals to court over patent infringement.
Apple’s plea to ban sales of Samsung’s smartphones that violate its patents has been rejected by a US judge.
Apple had requested the ban after a jury ruled earlier this year that some Samsung products had infringed Apple’s patents.
Samsung was also ordered to pay $1.05 billion in damages, a ruling the South Korean firm has since challenged.
However, the judge said there was not enough evidence that the infringed patents had hurt Apple’s US sales.
“The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents,” District Judge Lucy Koh said.
“Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions.”
Since winning $1.05 billion damages in August this year, Apple has suffered setbacks in its various legal clashes with rivals.
Last month, Apple was asked to disclose the details of its patent-sharing deal with HTC to Samsung.
It has also lost an appeal against a UK ruling that Samsung had not infringed its design rights.
Apple’s plea to ban sales of Samsung’s smartphones that violate its patents has been rejected by a US judge
The US technology firm was also asked by a UK High Court to publish a statement on its website admitting that Samsung had not infringed its designs.
Meanwhile, sales bans sought by Apple against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the US were also lifted in October.
In November, a judge in the US dismissed a case brought by Apple alleging that Google’s Motorola unit was seeking excessive royalty payments for patents.
“The momentum that Apple had gained in the wake of the big billion dollar judgement seems to be losing its steam,” said Manoj Menon, managing director at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
“It appears that Apple will find it increasingly difficult to convince courts around the world that it has been hurt by alleged patent infringements.”
The smartphone market has seen tremendous growth over the past few years and Apple and Samsung have emerged as two of the biggest players in the sector.
The success of Apple’s iPhone has been a key driver of its growth, while Samsung has reported record quarterly profits helped by the popularity of its Galaxy range of smartphones.
However, as their market share has increased, so has the intensity of their legal battles with each other.
The two firms have filed legal cases against each other in more than 10 countries, each accusing the other of violating its patents.
However, analysts said that it was time the two companies sat down together and agreed on an amicable solution to their tussles – a move that has also been suggested previously by a judge in the US.
Manoj Menon of Frost & Sullivan said that as manufacturers look to develop even more advanced phones, they will eventually need to use technologies, the patents for which may not belong to them.
“What we are seeing is a convergence of different technologies into one device,” he said.
He explained that for innovation to continue in the sector it was key that various companies agreed to licensing terms for their patents.
Last month, Apple agreed such a deal with Taiwanese phone-maker HTC as it signed a 10-year licence agreement that ended their legal battle over patents.
The US Court of Appeals has overturned a ban on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone, in a blow to Apple in the ongoing battle between the two rivals.
It said the district court in California, which had issued the ban in June, had “abused its discretion in entering an injunction”.
Earlier this month, a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the US was also lifted.
The two firms are involved in a legal tussle over patent infringement claims.
Samsung welcomed the latest decision saying it “confirms that the role of patent law is to protect innovation and not to unreasonably stifle competition and restrict consumer choice”.
“We will continue to take all appropriate measures to ensure the availability of our innovative products,” the South Korean manufacturer said.
The smartphone segment is one of the fastest growing sectors for phone manufacturers and Apple and Samsung are among the biggest players in the arena.
Apple, which makes the iPhone, was one of the early pioneers in the segment, while Samsung, which manufactures the Galaxy range of smartphones, has made rapid strides in the sector gaining a strong share of key global markets in recent years.
However, its success has coincided with a growing legal battle with Apple, spread across various countries.
Earlier this year, a California court awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, after ruling several of its software and design technologies had been infringed by Samsung.
Samsung has since challenged that verdict and called for a retrial.
Analysts said that given the tremendous growth potential of the sector, the legal battle between the two firms was likely to continue.
“The intensity of the competition is so high, that it is less about billions of dollars in fines but more about slowing the competition,” said Manoj Menon, managing director of Frost & Sullivan.
He explained that Apple feels that Samsung has infringed its patents, which it believes has played a role in Samsung’s success.
“Apple will try and slow the rapid growth trajectory of Samsung,” he said
High Court of Australia has decided to lift the ban on the sale of Samsung’s tablet, Galaxy Tab, in the country in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Apple won a ban on Galaxy Tab, claiming Samsung had copied its iPhone and iPad.
South Korean Samsung had been unable to sell products in Australia since July.
Apple and Samsung are engaged in legal battles in more than 10 countries since April accusing each other of infringing smartphone and tablet patents.
Apple won a ban on Galaxy Tab, claiming Samsung had copied its iPhone and iPad
Last month, Samsung won an appeal against a temporary ban on sales.
However, Apple was awarded a stay of the orders. On Friday Apple’s bid to extend the ban was turned down by the High Court.
The ruling is a rare win for Samsung as it allows the company to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in time for the busy Christmas shopping season, a lucrative time for the industry.
The decision comes after a US court ruled against Apple’s bid to ban Galaxy phones and tablets, another win for Samsung. Apple has appealed against that ruling.
However, the legal tussle in other markets is not going as well for Samsung.
The company said on Friday that a French court had turned down its request to ban sale of the latest iPhone in that country.