Friday 14 October 2011

Life's good for BMW and Audi in Korea?

As recently reported e.g. in the Guardian, Korean electronics company LG has sued German car companies BMW and Audi for importation into Korea of cars incorporating LED lights that allegedly infringe LG's patents.

The LED lights in question are made by Osram, which itself is reported to have sued LG and Samsung in the Korean courts for infringement of patents relating to the technology used to make white LEDs.

It would be interesting to know the commercial logic behind LG’s move: although BMW is the most popular imported car brand in Korea, the Guardian article notes that imported cars account for less than 10 percent of the Korean market. Moreover, the 16,579 BMW cars reported as being sold in Korea in the first eight months of this year are a small fraction of the 1,021,927 sales reported on the BMW website for a similar period.

Balancing this is the significantly lower cost to LG of litigating on their home turf. The Korean litigation would also appear to have generated publicity that has reached far beyond Korea’s borders. Is this publicity a signal of LG's willingness to litigate in more significant markets if a settlement is not reached?

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