Law Street Media

Samsung Sued For Patent Infringement For Earbuds

Samsung's logo on the building of one of its offices.

Seoul, Republic of Korea - March 26, 2013: The Samsung logo on the window of one of the South Korean company's offices in Gangnam, central Seoul, with cars and people on the street reflected in the window.

GUI Global Products, Ltd., doing business as Gwee, filed a complaint against Samsung on Monday in the Southern District of Texas for patent infringement relating to the parties’ earbuds and carrying case.

The patents-in-suit are Gwee’s U.S. Patent Nos. 10,589,320 (“the ’320 patent”), 10,562,077, 10,259,021, and 10,259,020. The patents generally comprise magnetic portable switching devices connected with a portable electronic device. Samsung’s allegedly infringing products are the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds Plus products.  

Gwee proffered that Samsung infringed at least Claim 1 of the ’320 patent, which covers a system comprising “a portable switching device coupled to a portable electronic device; wherein: the switching device and the electronic device are configured to selectively couple to each other employing magnetic force…” The Claim goes on to describe how the switching device is configured to “activate, deactivate, or send into hibernation the portable electronic device.” Gwee claimed that Samsung’s infringing products contain the elements as described in the patent.

For example, the “Galaxy Buds charging case functions as a portable switching device and Galaxy Buds earbuds are portable electronic devices. Said cases and earbuds are coupled to each other, including at least magnetically.” As a result of this magnetic connectivity, the earbuds snap into place and stay securely within the charging case. Moreover, when the charging case is closed with an earbud inside, “it deactivates and/or hibernates the Galaxy Buds earbuds, including by sending a signal that causes the earbud to cease or stop Bluetooth communication; and when the Galaxy Buds charging case is opened, it activates the Galaxy Buds earbuds, including by sending a signal that causes its Bluetooth communications to commence.” Additionally, the earbuds can pause and play music playing from a phone if the earbuds are connected to the phone and decoupled from the charging case. 

Gwee asserted that this constitutes infringement because of the similarities in the products and the alleged use of the processes described in the patent. The claims for the other patents are similar to that of the ’320 patent and the reasoning and examples of Samsung’s alleged infringement for the other patents-in-suit are also similar to those alleged in regards to the ’320 patent.

Gwee has sought declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, and other relief. Gwee is represented by Edmonds & Schlather PLLC with Gibbs & Bruns, LLP, Beck Redden LLP, and Butch Boyd Law Firm.

Major retailers were sued over the Galaxy Buds in another case in February, which alleged that the batteries in the Galaxy Buds violated VARTA Microbattery ‘s patents.

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