Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Many lawsuits against Samsung

Market Intelligence:

In recent times, a lot have happened to one of the Koreans mobile communications company, Samsung Electronics and most worrisome has been the avalanche of lawsuits against the organisation.

Investigations by Champion Infotel indicated that almost on quarterly basis, Samsung has one case to answer at the global level. This industry analysts said is not good for the image of the company and as such attributed it to the dwindling market presence it has in Nigeria, the most populous on the continent of Africa.

Rewinding a bit, at the inception of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), the Korean company invaded the nation’s market like a bee with everyone carrying one Samsung brand or another.

But today, the trend has changed and drastically too according to industry observers as more competition kept emerging into the Nigerian market. As mildly put by one observer, if Samsung is in the fifth position among mobile companies operating and battling for the Nigeria’s market and mobile phone share precisely and currently, it should count itself lucky.

Conversely, at the global level, Samsung Electronics was recently sued by Ericsson of being involved in the infringement of 11 patents concerning mobile phones.

This was contained in a lawsuit Ericsson filed on July 28 last year in the United States District Court in Marshall, Texas.

As reported by TechShout.com, Ericsson’s complaint included that Samsung allegedly used patented technology comprising methods of reducing cell phone power usage and intensifying and adjusting radio frequency.

Ericsson had reportedly filed a lawsuit against Samsung on February 2006 and asked the courts to rule that Samsung infringed its patents. Ericsson also asked the courts to rule that phones made by collaboration with Sony Corp do not breach Samsung patents.

Also in February this year, Samsung was involved an Media Player 3 patent alongside Apple and Sandisk, which covered “an MPEG portable sound reproducing system.”

Reports had it that Texas MP3 Technologies had filed a patent suit in Marshall, Texas alleging that the three companies infringed on its patent.

The complaint specifically cites US patent 7,065,417, which was awarded in June 2006 to multimedia chip-maker SigmaTel and sold the US rights to the patent a few months back. Apple’s media player products have used both SigmaTel and Samsung multimedia decoding processors.

Equally, Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle is said to use a Samsung decoding processor for its multimedia functions, rather than the expected SigmaTel chip, which Apple has used within its first-generation iPod shuffle since its introduction in January of 2005.

Also, Washington Research Foundation (WRF), which assists Washington state universities with commercializing technology, on December 21, 2006 filed a patent suit alleging that Samsung joined by Matsushita’s Panasonic division and Nokia, were infringing on four patents sold under the “Bluetooth” name.

Above all, the fact according to observers have been that these lawsuits have continuously denied the optimal growth of developing markets such as Nigeria and West Africa at large by the likes of Samsung.

A quick reminder here, was the experience of Econet Wireless, which ended up spending more money on lawsuits than it did on deployment of its services in most countries where it has operations, which resulted in retrogressive acceptance attitude by consumers.

As for Nigeria, most supposed dealers of Samsung brands of mobile phones have since dumped the brand for other ones with ease sail in terms of total cost of doing business with a given company, while those who still stick to Samsung brand are no longer involved in mobile phones, hence they now concentrate on other electronics gadgets of Samsung with groans.

A redefinition of its objectives could save the telco from further reduction in fortune, even as it now ranks about fifth; after Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola in the Nigerian market.

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