Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are being sued in the US amidst alleged collusion. Haier owns the US home appliance business marketed under the General Electric name.
The case has been brought by a Chinese home appliance manufacturer, Haier Group, and the company has commenced a lawsuit in a New York federal court in Albany, NY, alleging that Samsung and LG, as well as Panasonic, Philips and Zenith of organising a cartel and colluding over fees to use the ATSC standards for digital transmission. Haier owns the US home appliance business marketed under the General Electric name.
Haier says the normal licensing of rights must be made under FRAND terms, short for standards that are “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory”.
“Defendants acquired monopoly power in the ATSC standard essential technology market by making false promises to the ATSC and the FCC – specifically, defendants falsely promised that they would licence ATSC essential technology on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis,” the complaint says.
Additionally in the lawsuit, Haier’s US division, accuses the five named defendants of colluding with patent licensing authority MPEG LA, plus the Trustees of Columbia University, of restricting fair competition and access to the ATSC patents.
The patents, chosen as standards by the Advanced Television Systems Committee and adopted as requirements by the FCC, are sold at a fixed price of $7 per digital TV, according to the complaint, which Haier says makes it unfair for companies like low-end product makers to pay the same amount of royalties as those by large premium TV makers like Samsung, whose products are priced north of $2,000.
“Although companies whose patents are part of the ATSC and MPEG-2 patent portfolios retain the right to license their patents outside the structure of the licenses, approaching such companies individually to license necessary technology is a fruitless endeavor. Haier has approached licensors LG, Samsung, and Thomson Licensing about licensing necessary patents for its TV tuners; all have refused to negotiate individually and referred Haier back to MPEG LA,” the 48-page complaint states.