Samsung Display, the display production division of South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics, has filed a lawsuit against BOE Technology, a Chinese electronic component manufacturer, alleging patent infringement on multiple technologies related to OLED panels.
This move comes at a time when South Korea’s dominance in the OLED panel industry faces competition from Chinese producers offering cost-effective panel-making technology.
In the lawsuit, Samsung Display claims that BOE Technology has violated five patents on mobile phone displays, including those used in Apple’s iPhone 12. The lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in Texas. Samsung Display is seeking monetary damages for the patent infringement and an injunction to stop the importation and sale of the allegedly infringing displays.
Samsung Display’s complaint, filed in the Texas Eastern District Court, alleges that BOE infringed upon five OLED panel-related technologies, including the renowned Diamond Pixel technology. This technology, developed by the South Korean panel manufacturer, uses a diamond-shaped arrangement of red, green, and blue subpixels, resulting in higher resolution compared to the conventional square structure.
Apple, a major consumer of OLED displays, has incorporated them into several products, including the recently released iPhone 14. According to Apple, OLED technology offers superior resolution and allows for thinner displays compared to traditional display technologies.
Official statements from Samsung Display regarding the lawsuit against BOE Technology have not been issued at this time.
The dispute between Samsung Display and BOE began when Samsung Display sent a letter to BOE last year, notifying them of the alleged infringement of Samsung’s patented technology in the production and sale of OLED panels. However, BOE ignored the letter and continued manufacturing and selling the disputed OLED panels.
In December, Samsung Display escalated the issue by filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, claiming that many iPhone repair shops in the United States were using OLED panels that incorporated Samsung’s proprietary technology. This prompted an investigation by the agency into the matter.
Despite the complaint and ongoing legal proceedings, BOE continued manufacturing and promoting the OLED panels. They showcased these panels at notable industry trade shows such as The Society for Information Display’s Display Week in 2018, 2019, and 2022, further intensifying the patent dispute between the two companies.
In response to Samsung Display’s actions, the U.S. International Trade Commission initiated an investigation to examine the allegations of patent infringement by several companies selling OLED screens as replacement displays for mobile devices. The investigation aims to assess the validity of the claims and determine any necessary legal remedies or consequences that may arise from the alleged infringement.
According to prosecutors, a former executive of Samsung Electronics faced indictment on suspicions of unlawfully acquiring company technology for a chip factory in China, potentially endangering national economic security.
The current lawsuit raises concerns about Samsung’s relationship with Apple, as Samsung Display had supplied over 70% of the OLED panels for the iPhone 14. However, the situation appears to have changed for the iPhone 15, with Samsung Display potentially being excluded due to setbacks faced by BOE and another supplier, LG Display, during the iPhone 14 production.
The announcement of the iPhone 15 is expected in September, and the outcome of this lawsuit could significantly impact Samsung’s involvement in future iPhone displays.