Following high profile settlements over patent suits between some of the biggest players in the smartphone market (notably Apple, Samsung and Google), there has been a lull in high profile global patent litigation. However, this has come to an abrupt end with Huawei suing Samsung for alleged patent infringement in the US and China.
The patents being litigated have not yet been disclosed but Huawei have said that they relate to fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software in Samsung phones. It is also thought that the technology relates to standard essential patents (SEPs) that may be subject to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms.
Both Huawei and Samsung are familiar with such battles, having been on the losing side of a UK judgement with licensing company Unwired Planet, and Huawei are currently involved in German litigation with Chinese competitor ZTE that was subject to a referral to the EU Court of Justice, the judgement from which set out the steps that should be followed when negotiating the licence of SEPs under FRAND terms.
But such clashes have become less common since Apple and Samsung's high-profile courtroom battle in 2011, which led to both firms revealing secrets about their inner workings and racking up large legal bills. One expert noted that just because papers had been filed in the latest case did not mean Huawei and Samsung would necessarily fight a similar battle in public.