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  (Source: ibtimes)
Samsung files lawsuits in three countries, citing 10 patent violations

Earlier this week, we reported that Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung for copying certain design aspects of its popular iPhone. "Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," Apple claimed in the lawsuit.

Unfazed by Apple's lawsuit, Samsung responded that Apple was in fact infringing on some of its patents, adding, "Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property." 

Samsung is now backing up those words with some legal action of its own. The company has filed lawsuits in South Korea, Japan, and Germany citing ten cases of patent infringement by Apple.

Samsung added that this legal action will "ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business."

According to Reuters, Samsung claims that Apple is violating its patents related to "power reduction during data transmission, 3G technology for reducing errors during data transmission, and wireless data communication technology."

Apple and Samsung are close business partners, and Apple is currently Samsung's second largest customer. Thanks to strong sales of the iPad and iPhone, Reuters expects Apple to become Samsung's largest customer during 2011.

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Samsung's MO
By nstott on 4/22/2011 12:50:19 PM , Rating: 5
I worked as a senior research engineer for Samsung in Suwon, South Korea at their Digital Research Complex from 2006 to 2009.

It's not that the management tells the principal researchers to copy other market leaders. The leading technology of other companies is spotlighted, the management creates a push for competitive technology, and then they give unreasonable deadlines to develop the new technology. The researchers have little choice but to obtain and reverse engineer the IP of their competitors, for which management turns a blind eye to, and they usually add significant improvements to the work of others in order to claim and rationalize that their technology is novel. Some of this has to do with the education system there that was first instituted under the colonial rule of Japan, which emphasizes mass memorization of existing solutions without fostering the creativity to develop new solutions.

It’s common practice for Samsung to lure start-up companies into sharing novel technology with the promise of becoming a large customer that will integrate the technology of the start-up with other technology and platforms that Samsung is developing. The new technology is reverse-engineered and used to benchmark the development of Samsung’s technology. Then the start-up is dropped. Given that Samsung is an 800-lb gorilla, the start-up has little recourse given that a legal battle would be too costly for them. Typically, Samsung will not be so blatant with IP theft against a larger company, like Apple, but I think they were oblivious to it since it involves style rather than electronic components.

The domestic cell phone market in South Korea is big, with people changing to new, trendy cell phones just about every year, and the Korean conglomerates have successfully lobbied the government to lock out foreign competition. Motorola is the most successful foreign competitor there, but they were required to base their Korean cell phone operations over there and include technology required to make cell phones usable with South Korean telecom carriers. There was a big buzz and demand in South Korea when Apple came out with the iPod and then iPhone. Samsung immediately started working on competitive mp3 players and then cell phones. There was big demand for the iPhone in the South Korean market, but Samsung and LG successfully lobbied the government to block out the iPhone for several years while they developed similar smart phones.

As for filing patent law suits in Korea, Japan, and Germany; Samsung has a very aggressive IP program that encourages the filing of patents around the world. For example, I knew a researcher that sat around much of the day searching patent data bases for the US, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan in addition to journal articles and would then turn around and file patents for Samsung with his bosses and himself as the inventors in any of the countries that the patent wasn’t filed in yet. Thus, my guess is that Samsung patented Apple’s IP in these countries and is now turning the law suits around on Apple in places where it can. They will probably try to negotiate a settlement where all parties agree to drop their respective lawsuits.

One other commenter suggested that they did this because they have “friends” in those countries. That makes little legal sense given the countries mentioned, except for South Korea, and the only friends that they would really have would be in South Korea. Japan hates Samsung since, along the lines of what I mentioned above, Samsung lured Japanese engineers out of Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc with high salaries during the “lost decade” economic crisis that hit Japan during the 1990s. That’s how Samsung was able to become a market leader in flat panel display technology so quickly. In some sense, it’s sweet revenge for the exploitation Korea endured under colonial rule by the Japanese Empire before and during World War II.

RE: Samsung's MO
By nstott on 4/22/2011 12:57:09 PM , Rating: 5
BTW, for the record, I hate Apple and their MacTard fanboyz.

RE: Samsung's MO
By nafhan on 4/22/2011 1:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting to hear stuff from "inside". Any chance you can compare and contrast with other large institutions? I get the impression that variations on your experience are pretty common across the industry (i.e. Sammmy's doing that stuff, but so is everyone else).

RE: Samsung's MO
By nstott on 4/22/2011 2:13:04 PM , Rating: 5
Before Samsung, I worked for Cabot Corporation, a company that few have heard of while at the same time using many of their products everyday in the products of companies that you have heard of, whether it be Cabot carbon black in HP inks or fumed silica binders in pharmaceuticals. Cabot has a zero-tolerance code of corporate ethics. If one is caught violating the law; environmental, occupational safety, and IP laws in particular; they will be canned; no ifs, ands, or buts. It doesn’t matter to them how high your rank is in the company or if you graduated from a top-tier institution: you’re gone if you violate the law. Even if you don’t get caught on the outside, you will be fired and turned over to law enforcement authorities if you are caught on the inside. Zero.Tolerance.Period.

What I described about Samsung is common throughout Korea. They are very aggressive and engage in what I term “toxic competition.” It’s a culture that has developed in part by a large number of people living on a small piece of land with limited resources. They compete from day one to enter the best schools, and I mean elementary school, not college. Parent friends compete with each other over bragging rights, pushing their children based on the accomplishments, real or embellished, of their friends’ children. Competition is a great motivator and tool for development, but toxic competition is a thoroughly miserable extreme.

The reason I eventually left Samsung was due to this toxic competition. The job paid very, very well; but it ended up not being personally satisfying and therefore not worth the big bucks. For example, their idea of team work is to have every member of the team work on the same project independently and then pick the one with the best results for all of them to work on together later, with the credit going to the winning developer. This leads to a lot of backstabbing and resentment within the team. Personally, I had my project changed every three months as soon as promising results were forth-coming since the person one sub-level above me in my group always recommended to the principal research manager that I be switched. He would downplay my results, but the real reason was that he was worried that my success would lead to me taking his position and career advancements. The success of one is viewed as failure to another in a similarly ranked position. However, the success of clearly lower-ranked subordinates is viewed as the success of the leader.

RE: Samsung's MO
By nafhan on 4/22/2011 4:22:53 PM , Rating: 2
Trying to thank you for your interesting comment, but the comment system is labeling my comments as spam...

Anyway, thanks for the insight into research at large corporations. Very interesting to hear about that kind of thing.

RE: Samsung's MO
By KoolAidMan1 on 4/22/2011 11:12:31 PM , Rating: 2
Very interesting, I had no idea Samsung engaged in such dirty tactics

RE: Samsung's MO
By semiconshawn on 4/24/2011 3:31:04 AM , Rating: 2
In some sense, it’s sweet revenge for the exploitation Korea endured under colonial rule by the Japanese Empire before and during World War II.

Yeah korea really sticking it to Japan.... Seriously a tech win is in no way a pay back for occupation. Thousands died and this is sweet revenge? Ask the families of the dead if they feel vindicated by Samsung.

RE: Samsung's MO
By nstott on 4/25/2011 2:42:46 PM , Rating: 3
Nice straw man argument. Note that I said, "In some sense..." and that I referred to "exploitation" during the occupation in the context of business. I did not mention comfort women, murder, systematic rape, medical experiments, expressing the fat out of people to make soap, etc and that a tech win somehow made up for everything. Given all that was done to them, do you really expect that the Koreans are out to get an eye for an eye? What was done was done to the Korean part of my family, and I take it very seriously. I'll just say that my Korean colleagues considered my understanding of Japan and what they did to Korea as being "highly enlightened." My point in saying what I did was to show justification for what Korea has been doing to Japan in more recent history rather than painting Japan as a sympathetic victim. Your reading comprehension and argumentative skills are lacking to say the least, babosaeggiya.

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