Samsung, HTC Enter Patent Licensing Agreement with Intellectual Ventures

Smartphone makers Samsung and HTC have entered patent licensing agreements with Intellectual Ventures, which should help both avoid patent suits in the future.

Smartphone makers HTC and Samsung Electronics have taken steps to keep their energies focused on innovation and not legal documents. In respective Nov. 23 statements, each announced that it had entered into a long-term licensing agreement and strategic alliance with Intellectual Ventures.

Within the agreements, HTC and Samsung gain access to IV's portfolio of patents, which includes more than 30,000 intellectual property assets. This, HTC said in its statement, "contributes to HTC's ability to reduce its risk of litigation."

"HTC is one of the fastest growing companies in the mobile phone industry, and it understands the value of actively protecting its invention rights," Peter Detkin, founder and vice chairman of Intellectual Ventures, said in the HTC statement. "Given HTC's innovativeness in developing some of the industry's first smartphones and its continued development of some of the world's most advanced products, HTC is forward-thinking with its IP practices and is working with IV to mitigate its IP risk."

Earlier this year, Apple filed a patent-infringement suit against HTC, whose Android-running phones have established HTC as a major brand in the United States and helped Android's market share to outperform Apple's iOS. In the suit, Apple charges HTC with violating 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone's interface, architecture and hardware.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a March 2 statement.

HTC soon after filed a suit of its own, likewise accusing Apple of patent infringement and seeking to stop the shipment of iPhone, iPad and iPod devices into the United States.

Patent infringement suits-nearly too many to count-have also been swapped this year between Apple and Nokia; Microsoft and Motorola; and Motorola and Apple. Vertical Computer Systems has filed a patent suit against LG Electronics and Samsung; and NTP, which had a years-long legal battle with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, has most recently filed patent lawsuits against Apple, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola.

Intellectual Ventures, which describes itself as being on a mission to "energize and streamline an invention economy," plans to (as with HTC) help Samsung in its pursuit of new developments, while helping it to avoid legal missteps.

"At Intellectual Ventures, we have the expertise to meet the complex IP needs of companies like Samsung," Adriane Brown, president and COO of Intellectual Ventures, said in a statement. "Samsung is committed to developing excellent products, and we are providing them with the critical IP rights they need to continue this strong tradition of innovation."

In October, rivals Nokia and Motorola also announced a bit of legal cooperation, saying that they were extending an intellectual property licensing agreement to include 4G technologies such as LTE (Long-Term Evolution), WiMax and LTE-Advanced (which was just ratified as officially a 4G technology).

The agreement "shows that the industry is making fast progress in resolving LTE licensing issues between the major patent holders," Paul Melin, vice president of intellectual property at Nokia, said in a statement.