Samsung loses patent case again

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Samsung loses patent case again

A federal court in Texas ruled Saturday that Samsung Electronics must pay $400 million to a unit of Kaist for infringing a patent, according to Bloomberg.

Jurors in the Eastern District of Texas court also concluded that Qualcomm and GlobalFoundries, co-defendants with Samsung in the same case, also violated the technology owned by KIP, a private company belonging to the Daejeon-based Kaist, which is known for developing top-notch technologies. But the jury did not order compensation from those two companies.

Samsung is likely to appeal.

“We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that is reasonable, including an appeal,” Samsung said in a statement.

The patented technology relates to fin field effect transistors (FinFET), a type of a transistor that is used to increase the processing speed of smartphones and tablet PCs and minimizes electricity consumption. Samsung, the world’s No. 1 chipmaker, and GlobalFoundries use the technology to produce their semiconductors and Qualcomm is a customer of both companies. The three jointly defended themselves in the trial.

In November 2016, KIP filed a suit in the federal court in Texas claiming Samsung used its patented technology since 2015, starting with the Galaxy S6 smartphone and then in later models. Unlike Samsung, Intel paid around 10 billion won ($9.3 million) to use the technology since 2012.

The U.S. branch of Kaist IP, a licensing firm, based on the outskirts of Dallas, argued in a petition submitted to the court that Samsung initially considered the technology a fad and dismissed its importance. But the situation changed after Samsung’s chipmaking rival Intel developed its own FinFET technology.

Samsung’s infringement was found to be “willful,” or intentional, meaning the judge could increase the damages to as much as three times the amount set by the jury, Bloomberg reported. That means Samsung might be forced to pay as much as $1.2 billion won in compensation to KIP.

Samsung argues that no individual entity is eligible to receive fees for the use of the technology given it was a state-led project.

FinFET has a complicated history. Its development was originally a joint project between Wonkwang University, where Lee Jong-ho, now a professor at Seoul National University, was serving as a professor, and Kaist in 2001 using government funds. Lee moved to Kyungpook National University and patented the technology under his name in the United States and handed it over to KIP later. He moved to his current post and KIP transferred the patent to its U.S. branch, which was established in 2016.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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