LG Electronics has filed a patent infringement suit against TCL, claiming that the Chinese home appliance maker has infringed standard TV-related patents. It said TCL had ignored LG Electronics’ license renewal request for more than three years.
Prior to this lawsuit, LG Electronics filed a different lawsuit against TCL in 2019 for smartphone patent infringement and won it in March 2021.
LG Electronics filed a lawsuit against TCL in the Eastern District Court in Texas, United States on April 21 (local time). It asserted that TCL TV products sold in the United States violated its standard patents. LG Electronics has included TCL Holdings in Hong Kong as well as TCL companies in China, Vietnam and the United States as defendants in the lawsuit.
The technologies involved included TV user interface, image and sound processing, and Wi-Fi related technologies. According to the list of patents displayed on the official LG Electronics website, the six patents are used for LG Electronics’ main TV product groups – OLED TVs, Nanocell TVs, 8K TVs, and 4K Ultra HD TVs.
According to the account of the events included in the complaint, LG Electronics has offered to negotiate more than 10 times over the course of two years since it asked TCL to renew its patent license contract in November 2018, but it was rejected by TCL. The deadline for renewing the patent license contract originally proposed by LG Electronics was the end of 2018, but the first response from TCL came in February 2020, more than a year later.
The first meeting on contract renewal took place in July 2021, more than a year and five months later. However, even at this time, TCL showed a half-hearted attitude at the negotiating table by requesting additional time to gauge the value of LG Electronics’ patent. Based on these journals, LG Electronics asserted that TCL developed and manufactured products using the technology even though it was aware that at least some LG Electronics patents were infringed between 2019 and 2020.
“We’ve been negotiating patent licenses with TCL since the end of 2018, but TCL didn’t respond properly, so we had no alternative but to file a lawsuit,” an LG Electronics official explained.
This isn’t the first time LG Electronics has filed a patent lawsuit against a Chinese competitor. Even if it is limited to cases involving TCL only, this is the third time that a patent infringement lawsuit has been filed against TCL. Previously, LG Electronics sued TCL for infringement of TV-related technology patents in 2007, and the lawsuit concluded with a settlement. In November 2019, after 12 years, a patent infringement lawsuit against a long-term smartphone development (LTE) standard was filed against TCL in the Mannheim District Court in Germany and won by LG Electronics in March 2021.
LG Electronics sued HiSense, another Chinese home appliance company, in November 2019, for infringing patents on four TV-related technologies. The lawsuit was settled out of court in March 2021.
Industry insiders have cited reckless patent infringement by Chinese companies as the biggest cause of such patent lawsuits. LG Electronics has taken it straight to defend its patents and made a strategic decision to use this as leverage to slow Chinese TV makers’ pursuit of LG Electronics in the TV market, they said.