Samsung Beats ObjectVideo

By John Honovich, Published Jul 20, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

After a year of international litigation, ObjectVideo has withdrawn its complaint against Samsung - great news not only for Samsung but for the entire video analytics market. In this note, we break down what happened and what this means for the industry.

The Termination

ObjectVideo actually filed a motion to terminate the US ITC investigation. Equally important, ObjectVideo granted Samsung a covenant not to sue, unlike the paid licenses it has been demanding from everyone else. This covenant is for 'only three of ObjectVideo's 47 patents.' While the specific patents were not disclosed, it is most likely the three core patents that was subject of this litigation.

In true ObjectVideo style, they insulted Samsung in their announcement, saying:

"We realized that Samsung actually had very primitive and inaccurate video analytics capabilities."

This is, in itself, strange as ObjectVideo just spent tens if not hundreds of thousands suing Samsung over the last fifteen months, only to conclude that Samsung's analytic suck so bad they do not infringe on their patent?

Of course, ObjectVideo made it clear that they are looking forward to suing Samsung if they release new products or improve their analytics - so the specter remains.

Samsung's Response

However, Samsung pulled no punches in declaring this a victory [link no longer available]:

"We respect the intellectual property of others, but we do not pay unnecessary license fees simply to avoid litigation. That is why we decided to litigate this case and this outcome vindicates our company principles."

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Others Exempt?

While ObjectVideo dismissed Samsung as being 'very primitive', this conflicts with ObjectVideo's ongoing insistence that they invented and have patents on metadata and tripwire. If Samsung can win, why not others with similar analytics?

Here's Samsung's "Virtual Line Detection" analytic:

Clearly, this has metadata and uses a tripwire, two things ObjectVideo says they invented and have valid patents covering.

Samsung has more. Here's their zone violation demonstrated:

And here's their object removed analytic:

If ObjectVideo admits that Samsung does not need a paid patent license, this is a strong indicator that many others likely do not need one as well.

Accused of Theft

Another interesting element of the ObjectVideo / Samsung fight is that ObjectVideo accused Samsung of stealing their analytics:

"ObjectVideo has specifically accused Dr. Noh of copying ObjectVideo’s technology based on meetings between the companies during which ObjectVideo attempted to sell products to Samsung. Samsung ultimately decided not to purchase ObjectVideo’s products because of problems with ObjectVideo’s software."

Samsung denied this and since the covenant is now in place, this does not seem to be an issue any longer. Also, if it was true, than this would be a case of copyright infringement of software, not just a patent issue.

However, this does confirm many rumors that we heard over the last year that OV is privately accusing manufacturers of flat out stealing their code.

What's Next?

Other manufacturers will start asking themselves, and ObjectVideo, "if Samsung is not violating your patents, why am I?" Will ObjectVideo sue others only a year only to discover that, woops, their patents to not actually apply?

While the UTC trial against Bosch starts, equally important is Bosch's efforts to invalidate ObjectVideo's core patents. The Patent Office has issued a preliminary recommendation that there is a 'reasonable likelihood' that many of OV's core patent claims will be invalidated. If Bosch is successful here, it could cause OV's campaign to collapse.

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