The U.S. International Trade Commission said Thursday that it has agreed to investigate Samsung for possible trade violations, following a complaint by Ericsson. The network-equipment manufacturer alleges that Samsung has infringed a number of its mobile technology patents by continuing to sell a number of smartphones, tablets and TVs without a proper patent-licensing agreement. And it wants the ITC to ban their importation.
Ericsson’s complaint with the ITC against Samsung is a tit-for-tat response to a similar complaint brought against it by the Korean company late last year. In it, Samsung argued that some of Ericsson’s telecommunications network equipment violate a handful of Samsung patents.
It’s worth noting that most of the patents at issue in this spat are standards-essential ones, which their holders are obligated to license under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Both Ericsson and Samsung allege one another have refused to do so. And those allegations come at a time of increased regulatory scrutiny of standards-essential patents. Indeed, in its recent consent decree with Google, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission told Google that it cannot seek to ban competing products using patents it licensed under a FRAND agreement.
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