Feature Article

February 06, 2014

Cisco and Samsung Enter Patent Cross-license Agreement

Very shortly after entering into a patent cross-license agreement with Google, Cisco has now entered into a similar deal with Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung. Under the agreement, both Cisco and Samsung gain access to each other’s patent portfolios, which cover a broad range of products and technologies. This agreement not only covers existing patents, but any filed over the next 10 years as well.

Although the both of Cisco’s recent cross-licensing deals are extremely similar, the Cisco-Samsung agreement is perhaps more significant for two reasons. First, Samsung is not a part of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, while both Cisco and Google are. Second, Samsung is at the heart of the litigation-heavy behavior that has become common over the last few years, due to its ongoing, world-spanning legal battle with Apple.

"Innovation is stifled all too often in today's overly-litigious environment," said Dan Lang, vice president of Intellectual Property at Cisco, in a statement. "By cross-licensing our patent portfolios, Cisco and Samsung are taking important steps to reverse the trend and advance innovation and freedom of operation."

The Coalition for Patent Fairness is an advocacy group that aims to prevent abuses by patent trolls. It comprises a number of well-known technology companies, including Google, Cisco, Amazon.com, Dell, Comcast, Hewlett-Packard and Intel, just to name a few. All of these members believe that patent trolling is stifling innovation in the industry.

It’s possible that Samsung’s agreement with Cisco may be the first step toward the consumer electronics giant joining the Coalition for Patent Fairness. It would also make sense for the company that makes Android and the biggest manufacturer of Android devices to be on the same page in this area. That said, Samsung hasn’t given any overt indication that it will join the coalition.

"We look forward to working with Cisco," said Dr. Seungho Ahn, head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center. "We expect this agreement to result in mutual growth and, ultimately, for the benefit of both companies' customers across the world."

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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