Ericsson takes its fight against Samsung to the ITC


Ericsson(s eric) isn’t just suing Samsung for patent infringement but is also deploying another common tactic in the patent wars: trying to ban Samsung products from entering U.S. borders. Ericsson on Friday filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, a U.S. agency that has the power to ban or restrict imports.

After seeking damages and an injunction in Texas federal court, Ericsson is now going the regulatory route with a request to ban pretty much any piece of hardware Samsung sells in the United States. Ericsson’s complaint targets “wireless communication devices, tablet computers, media players, and televisions” and lists products like the Samsung Captivate Glide smartphone and the Galaxy tablet.

As we noted last week, Ericsson is challenging Samsung on radio technology, which spans the entire mobile industry from the lowliest handset to the most powerful cell-site base transceiver station. Though Ericsson is no longer in the handset business, it was one of the key contributors to every generation of handset technology from analog to LTE. It now seems to be using its patent portfolio to hit Samsung where it hurts: device sales.

But Samsung has seen a lot of recent success in its infrastructure business. It’s building Sprint’s LTE network right alongside Ericsson.

If this dispute follows the course of other patent blow-outs between industry titans, Samsung is likely to file a countersuit in court and at the ITC. Big companies like Samsung and Ericsson typically possess hundreds of thousands of patents and use them as strategic weapons against competitors. Typically, the disputes are resolved by cross-licensing or in court but, in recent years, the ITC has become a popular secondary venue because of its power to ban imports and because the body often issues decisions faster than courts.

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