Samsung sued for HEVC video codec patents

Samsung is being sued by MPEG LA, a licensing body that owns patents for the HEVC codec, among others.

According to the complaint (via Commercial Liaison), Samsung was licensor and licensed from 2014 to March 2020. After that date, the lawsuit alleges that Samsung continued to offer HEVC support products after its license expired.

The action is being presented in Dusseldorf, Germany. MPEG LA is seeking injunctions, monetary damages and expenses. The suit specifically targets Samsung’s German subsidiary, Samsung Electronics GmbH.

HEVC, or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is a widely used video compression standard. When compared to the older AVC standard, HEVC offers up to 50% better data compression at the same level of video quality. Almost all current hardware, including PCs and smartphones, supports some type of HEVC video encoding and decoding hardware.

Samsung has yet to respond to the lawsuit. One wonders why a company the size of Samsung would let its HEVC license expire. Maybe there’s something else going on behind the scenes.

according to one MPEG LA document, HEVC licensees are required to pay US$0.20 per unit after the first 100,000 units or devices sold, up to an annual limit of US$25 million. That’s not exactly a silly change, but for a company like Samsung, it pretty much is. It will be interesting to see how the case develops, despite the fact that interesting and patent lawsuits rarely coincide and are typically mutually exclusive concepts.

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