Osram files LED IP complaint against Samsung and LG in Korea, Samsung responds

Aug. 24, 2011
The LED-centric patent fight between Osram and Korea-based LG and Samsung escalates with new complaints and counter moves.

Osram has filed a complaint against LG Innotek with the Korea Trade Commission (KTC) alleging that the LG subsidiary is infringing four Osram patents focused on LEDs that generate white light. Osram also filed nullity suits and infringement actions in Korea against both LG Group and Samsung. Samsung said it hadn't received the legal documents of the new actions, but again affirmed its belief that Osram is infringing on Samsung patents.

Osram instigated the first steps in this skirmish back in June when it targeted Samsung and LG with LED patent litigation in the US, Germany, and Japan. Samsung responded almost immediately with a counter suit against Osram filed in Korea. And subsequently LG filed a complaint against Osram in Korea and Samsung and Osram both took complaints to the US International Trade Commission.

In the latest action, Osram alleges that LG Innotek infringed on the white LED patents and has asked the KTC to issue an order banning the export of certain LG products such as LED-backlit TVs and computer monitors. Osram asserts that those products are being manufactured with what it calls "patented Osram core technology."

“We respect the property rights of other companies and expect the same from other market participants," said Aldo Kamper, CEO of Osram Opto Semiconductors. “That is why we are setting a clear signal with our actions in Korea, not least for our customers, for whom we are a reliable partner.”

Seoul Central District Court

The second set of Osram actions this week against LG Group and Samsung took place in the Seoul Central District Court. Osram again says that LG Group and Samsung companies have infringed on patents on white and surface-mountable LEDs in Korea.

LG and Samsung had asserted patent claims against Osram in the aforementioned actions earlier in the summer. Osram's latest nullity suit against the companies makes the claim that the patents asserted by LG Group and Samsung are null and void.

Osram is asking that the companies refrain from unauthorized use of Osram technology and is requesting damage compensation.

Clearly Osram's ultimate goal is a cross-licensing agreements and perhaps royalties. Kamper said, "Our most important competitors have acknowledged our patents by entering into cross-license agreements with us or paying royalties.”

Samsung's response

Samsung issued an immediate and strong response to the latest Osram action claiming that Osram was trying to delay Samsung's infringement action in Korea. Samsung's official statement said, "Samsung LED previously sued Osram in Korea and the United States to stop Osram from infringing Samsung LED patents and to invalidate Osram's patents. Osram's actions in South Korea are a typical and expected response to Samsung's legal actions and appear to be an attempt to delay Samsung LED's infringement action against Osram in Korea."

Samsun LED asserts that Osram has infringed on eight patents and the action includes a number of Osram's most popular LED product lines including Dragon and Oslon. Samsung's statement concluded, "Samsung LED intends to vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights, and these lawsuits reflect Samsung LED's commitment to that enforcement."

Stepping back, the real question is whether this will be a prolonged skirmish, or simply an instance where each company is trying to attains the most favorable terms in what will ultimately be cross-licensing agreements between Osram and the Korean companies.

William Mackie, senior analyst capital goods at Germany-based Berenberg Bank has followed the situation. Mackie said, "These actions and reactions are a normal part of the business in LEDs to protect patent portfolios. The current dispute is ongoing and will likely be settled in next 6 months."