Samsung Acquires Hera Wi-Fi Patents Through (Patent Troll?) Sisvel

Sisvel UK Limited (“Sisvel”) arranged and finalized a Wi-Fi patent license agreement between Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (“Samsung”) and Hera Wireless S.A. (“Hera”), on June 7, 2018. Hera is the wholly owned subsidiary of Sisvel International S.A., the holding company of the Sisvel Group. The Sisvel Group has companies in major countries across the world such as the United States, Italy, China and Germany, among others.

Hera’s portfolio has over 100 patents across various jurisdictions such as the United States and Japan. The agreement covers a multi-year global license for the patents pertaining to the sale and distribution of Wi-Fi enabled products by Samsung. With this, Samsung has access to the essential patents owned by Hera, which are significant to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 802.11 group of WIFI standards.

What are Patent Trolls?

Patent Trolls, or Patent Assertion Entities (“PAEs”) essentially acquire patents without the intent of actually manufacturing or developing products using those patents. In general, patent trolls are notorious for enforcing patent rights against infringers through rough legal practices such as undertaking frivolous litigation (or just the threat of it). They generally target smaller companies that cannot afford the expenses of an arduous litigation and hence would be quicker to settle. Even big companies can suffer harm in courts as was seen in the fight between Apple and VirnetX, a Patent Assertion Entity, over the Facetime and iMessage patents. In April 2018, a federal court in the United States ordered Apple to pay $502.6 million in damages to VirnetX.

Is Sisvel a Patent Troll?

The company is known for acquiring essential patents relating to telecommunication and wireless communication industries. One such example is its acquisition of 450 patents from Nokia, out of which 350 were essential for mobile telecommunication, specifically to 2nd, 3rd and 4th-generation communications standards, including GSM, UMTS / WCDMA and LTE. Sisvel has gained a notorious reputation in the past due to aggressive protection of its patents rights. In 2010, Sisvel called for the German police to raid a booth at the CeBIT and a heavy fine was imposed.

Nonetheless, Sisvel may not be considered a troll in its pejorative sense since it provides licenses for all the patents it owns on reasonable terms, that is, FRAND terms. FRAND is an acronym for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms that an owner of Intellectual Property Rights should provide while granting a license. Sisvel acquires patents and then acts as the ultimate destination for companies to get licenses for all essential patents that they could require for their products. Forbes recognized this and declared Sisvel to be “the Patent troll we actually like”. In conclusion, Sisvel  just might be a company reclaiming the term ‘Patent Troll’ to get rid of its negative meaning and continue revolutionizing the patent licensing landscape.

Author: Aparajita Kaul, Intern at  Khurana&Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at pratistha@iiprd.com.

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