July 17, 2009 09:26
In 2005, a small American firm called InterDigital filed suits against global corporations Nokia, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.
This firm, which specializes in research and development of wireless communications technologies, succeeded in winning patent royalties of US$250 million from Nokia and $134 million from Samsung Electronics. LG Electronics paid $285 million in royalties before InterDigital began a legal procedure.
Around that time, Intellectual Ventures co-founded by Nathan Myhrvold, formerly chief technology officer at Microsoft, has been buying up lucrative patents by raising funds amounting to billions of dollars from global enterprises such as Microsoft, Apple and Sony.
The recession has led to more such life-or-death disputes as companies want to seize a vantage ground in the market. Samsung and LG are becoming the main targets of overseas enterprises in patent suits after performing better than their rivals in Japan and the U.S.
Twenty-eight suits were filed against Samsung Electronics by 25 firms including Sharp, Hitachi and Panasonic last year. Whirlpool recently sued LG Electronics, which filed a countersuit against the U.S. company.
An industry insider said Samsung Electronics is trying to buy a stake in SanDisk, the holder of original technology for flash memory semiconductors, with a view to reducing royalty payouts and preventing patent disputes.
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