Last year, the offensive of non-practicing entities (NPEs) against Korean companies such as Samsung and LG Electronics reportedly slowed down somewhat. The phenomenon can be interpreted in a way that local firms strengthened defensive capabilities against patent lawsuits. Moreover, so-called patent trolls began to focus on US mobile carriers and Chinese smartphone manufacturers. NPEs are any entity that makes profits by licensing its patents, or filing lawsuits against firms for patent infringement.
According to research firm Patent Freedom on January 13, there were 38 cases filed by NPEs against Samsung. Among large and high-profile companies worldwide, the Korean company was the fifth most pursed company by NPEs. However, its ranking edged down by one place from 3th in 2012 (37 cases). On the other hand, LG’s ranking went down by nine notches from 5th in 2012 to 14th place in 2013. Nonetheless, the number of NPE lawsuits actually increased by two cases from 25 in 2012 to 27 last year.
Over the cited period, Apple moved down one spot from 1st (44 cases) to 2nd (42) in the rankings. Like Apple, Google became the second most pursed firm last year with 42 lawsuits.
As for Samsung and LG, a drop in their rankings, even with a rise in the total number of cases filed by patent trolls against them, can be ascribed to the concentration of NPE lawsuits on US telecommunication companies.
In fact, the most pursed firm by patent trolls in 2013 was AT&T. The US firm was sued for patent infringement 51 times last year, which is more than a twofold increase from the previous year. As a result, AT&T climbed up five spots from 6th in 2012 to 1st in 2013 in the rankings.
Meanwhile, Chinese smartphone maker Huawei and ZTE ranked 11th at the same time. The number of NPE lawsuits against Huawei increased from 13 to 30 cases in the period, while the figure against ZTE jumped from 16 to 30 cases.
In total, patent infringement lawsuits filed by NPEs amounted to 3,134 cases in 2013, a year-on-year increase of 482 cases.