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Samsung acquiesces to InterDigital demands in new licensing deal

The companies had fought for years over licensing terms on patents held by InterDigital, but it appears that battle is now over.


Samsung and InterDgitial, a company that licenses patents to other companies, have formed a licensing deal that will put an end to their litigation.

InterDigital announced the deal in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday, saying that it has entered into a "royalty bearing license agreement" on all Samsung 3G, 4G, and "certain future generation wireless products." InterDigital didn't say how much it will collect on each Samsung device sale, but indicated that the agreement is in place through 2017 with the option to extend to 10 years.

InterDigital is one of the more controversial companies in the licensing space. The firm both develops its own patents and has acquired some patents over the years and has made its way through the technology industry licensing those to companies. In the event companies don't want to license certain patents, InterDigital launches patent-infringement cases and embroils the firms in years-long patent battles.

That was precisely what played out last year when InterDigital sued Samsung, along with Nokia and other device makers, arguing that their products were violating patents they held related to wireless technology. InterDigital asked the International Trade Commission to ban the importation of Samsung products into the US as part of the lawsuit.

At that time, Samsung had argued that it was innocent and would fight the InterDigital lawsuit. The company hasn't yet released a statement on why it changed course.

Despite some claims that it's a patent troll -- a derogation used to describe companies that don't produce actual products but use licenses to take cash from those that do -- InterDigital, which produces 95 percent of the patents it owns in-house, has caught the eye of prominent companies in the past.

Indeed, in 2011, Reuters reported that at least three major companies -- Apple, Nokia, and Qualcomm -- were all considering acquiring InterDigital to get their hands on the company's patents. And given the rash of patent-infringement lawsuits ongoing between major tech companies, like Apple and Samsung, that move might have made sense at that time.

CNET has contacted Samsung for comment on the licensing deal. We will update this story when we have more information.

Update 5:17 a.m. PT to include new details on InterDigital.