LG Electronics LTE Patent Enforcement Issues

It’s been a busy week for the Korean mobile device company. On Wednesday, LG Electronics announced a lawsuit against smartphone maker Wiko. The lawsuit, filed in the steamroller capital of the world, Mannheim, Germany, accuses the French smartphone company of violating patents related to LTE technology. The Korean Times reports:

Since the company sent a letter of warning to Wiko in 2015, LG made several efforts to negotiate a licensing agreement, but the French company ignored those requests.

“We decided to sue the French company in order to protect our intellectual property and take strict action against unfair use of LG’s technologies,” Jeon Saeng-gyu, head of the intellectual property center at LG Electronics said in a statement.

This marked the second time that LG has taken legal action against smartphone makers. In March 2017, LG sued U.S.-based phone maker BLU Products for infringing on five LG patents that are essential to LTE operation. The patent suit was resolved in the second half of last year but the terms were not disclosed.

Also on Wednesday, Canadian patent owner Wi-LAN filed a lawsuit of its own in San Diego (a city with undoubtedly far better weather than Mannheim). According to the complaint, “[t]he efforts of [inventor Ken] Stanwood and other Wi-LAN inventors in developing these advanced 4G technologies have enabled 4G mobile devices to support a variety of services popular among users of [LG’s] 4G LTE mobile devices, such as voice, conversational video, live streaming of video and music, real-time gaming, video and photo sharing, email, and instant messaging, all in the palm of your hand.” Further, Wi-LAN says it contacted LG in 2016 to engage the smartphone maker in licensing discussions. While LG “initially expressed interest,” they ultimately declined to license the Wi-LAN’s intellectual property.

While Wi-LAN does not allege that their licensing efforts were “ignored” in the same way that LG complains about Wiko, feigning interest only to delay discussions can be just as counterproductive. If LG’s “expressed interest” falls into this category, it will be interesting to watch this lawsuit progress to see whether their tune changes during a time that they struggle with their own reluctant-licensee holdouts.

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