BERLIN -- Ericsson, the market leader in mobile phone networking equipment, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Samsung, the biggest smartphone maker, claiming that it had infringed on 24 of Ericsson's software and hardware patents.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tyler, Texas, was the second brought by Ericsson in six years against Samsung, which climbed atop the smartphone market largely by using Google's (GOOG) Android operating system, the most widely used operating system, instead of relying on its own.
Like most major mobile device companies, Samsung makes phones and tablet computers that use some hardware and software developed and patented by Ericsson. Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson's chief intellectual property officer, said the lawsuit covered a broad range of patents involving GSM, GPRS, 3G and LTE mobile phone standards.
Ericsson's initial agreement for mobile patents with Samsung expired in 2011, Alfalahi said. The companies have since been negotiating, but to no avail.
"We have more than 100 agreements with all of the major handset makers," Alfalahi said. "Our way is usually to try to avoid filing lawsuits. We are doing this only as a last resort."
Samsung said Ericsson was asking for a substantial increase in royalty payments and vowed to fight. It said
"This time Ericsson has demanded significantly higher royalty rates for the same patent portfolio," Samsung said in a statement, which did not provide specifics on the royalties being discussed. "As we cannot accept such extreme demands, we will take all necessary legal measures to protect against Ericsson's excessive claims."
Alfalahi declined to say whether Ericsson had raised its royalty demands, or by how much.
As it has grown, the smartphone industry has become increasingly litigious as devices become ever more similar and market leaders, especially Apple (AAPL), Google and Samsung, fight to protect the value of key innovations that give them a fleeting, yet profitable edge in sales.
"These types of lawsuits tend to come and go in cycles, and more often than not end in settlements," said Florian Mueller, a patent consultant in Germering, Germany.
Ericsson filed its latest suit in U.S. court because the United States is the world's biggest intellectual property market, he said. Ericsson's U.S. subsidiary is based in Plano, Texas, near Dallas, and the company filed its first court challenge against Samsung in the same Texas court.