Patent Troll Punks Samsung Over Bluetooth Patents, Wins $15 Million Verdict

Samsung can't seem to catch a break these days. The latest blow to the company's bottom line is a $15.7 million verdict in favor of Rembrandt Wireless Technologies LP, which managed to convince a Texas federal jury that the South Korean electronics firm infringed on two of its patents relating to Bluetooth technology.

It only took the jury one hour to deliberate after a five-day trial laid out details regarding U.S. Patents 8,023,580 and 8,457,228. In addition to the $15.7 million damages award, Rembrandt will also receive royalties on all Samsung Bluetooth sales for the life of the patents.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

According to Ars Technica, Rembrandt IP is one of the oldest and most successful so-called "patent trolls" around. In this case, Rembrandt sought to cash in on a pair of patents invented by Gordon Bremer, who has been working with the company as a consultant since 2004. Rembrandt's argument is that those patents apply to products using Bluetooth 2.0 and later, even though Bremer didn't invent Bluetooth 2.0. Bremer admitted that fact on the stand, saying he hadn't even read about the Bluetooth 2.0 specification until 2007, three years after it was on the market.

Bremer's patents were originally designed for modems back in 1997. Later on, he discovered they could also be applied to Bluetooth products, as he realized that if he put an indicator at the beginning of each communication that told it to change the modulation, it would allow for communication to happen instantly.

Bluetooth 2.0 includes a technology called Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) that allows for backwards compatibility. While Bremer didn't have a hand in creating Bluetooth 2.0, Rembrandt's legal team convinced the jury that EDR infringed on Bremer's patents.

"It would be a surprise if Samsung doesn't appeal now. It's expected in these cases. But we are confident the result will be affirmed in all respects," says Michael F. Heim of Heim Payne & Chorush LLP in Houston, who also represented Rembrandt with fellow firm attorneys Eric J. Enger, Miranda Y. Jones and Blaine A. Larson. Attorney T. John "Johnny" Ward Jr. of Longview's Ward & Smith served as local counsel.