Samsung Electronics

Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea

Industry sector: Consumer electronics, telecommunications equipment, semiconductors, home appliances

Samsung Electronics has risen to global dominance in the past few years, thanks to its market-leading product lines and robust approach to defending its intellectual property. While the company may traditionally have viewed its intellectual property as more shield than sword, a brief look at its recent litigation record reveals a more aggressive stance as it focuses on asserting its rights in jurisdictions where competitors may be weaker, such as Japan, Germany and its home turf, South Korea. The smartphone battles with a certain California-based company are by no means the end of the story: Samsung’s meteoric ascent on the international stage has attracted the attentions of many of its rivals and it is currently embroiled in some 90 active suits around the world as a result. Three years ago, a dedicated centre was established to house a centralised IP function for the company at HQ in Samsung Town, an office park in Seoul which serves as the group’s IT and electronics nerve centre. Meanwhile, uniting the previously separate functions of licensing, monetisation and litigation under one roof has facilitated the design and implementation of a coherent, coordinated IP strategy that informs all business decisions. The licensing unit has helped to strengthen Samsung’s hand in litigation through a string of deals with heavyweight patent holders such as Cisco, Google, Ericsson, Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures and IBM, which will assist it in defending potential suits or launching countersuits, and give it greater freedom to operate.