The Korea Herald


‘Patent troll’ files 14 suits against S. Korean firms in 2017

By Bae Hyun-jung

Published : Jan. 29, 2018 - 17:37

    • Link copied

A nonpracticing entity filed a series of patent infringement lawsuits last year against South Korea’s information technology giants, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, in an apparent move to ride their recently improved sales in the US market, a local intellectual property service provider said Monday.

Most recently, Uniloc filed a suit to the federal court of Texas in October last year, claiming LG Electronics infringed upon one of its patents through products equipped with smart home platform system SmartThinQ, according to Seoul-based global patent information company WIPS and US-based patent risk solution provider Rational Patent Exchange.

Uniloc filed the suit only five months after acquiring the corresponding patent, indicating a typically aggressive patent war tactic of NPEs.

The Luxemburg software company, referred to as a “patent troll,” is well known for its patent lawsuits across the globe. Its recent practices include a lawsuit filed against Google in the Eastern District of Texas, the most popular location for patent holding disputes.

The latest case was one of 14 lawsuits that Uniloc filed last year against prominent South Korean tech players, including market champion Samsung Electronics and game publisher Nexon.

In the previous year, Uniloc took action against Naver and Kakao, South Korea’s two biggest online platform companies.

“The successful sales of Korean (IT) companies’ in the US market has recently been attracting the attention of global NPEs,” said an official from WIPS.

“Where there is sales growth, there are bound to be NPE lawsuits, which is why companies should act promptly in establishing patent strategies.”

LG smartphones hit a market share of 20 percent in the US last year, closing in on frontrunners Samsung and Apple.

Patent trolls including Uniloc have recently been expanding the range of their targets, instead of focusing solely on market champions, as the latter tend to have strong patent response teams, the official added.

By Bae Hyun-jung