Samsung has had to defend itself from dozens of patent suits in the Eastern District of Texas, one of the most popular venues for patent plaintiffs.
At times it may feel to a defendant like a Texas version of the movie ‘Groundhog Day.’ The company so often finds itself in front of a Marshall, TX jury that you could call this part of the U.S. its home away from home. And, as it’s been said, that’s where charity should begin.
In an apparent effort to make itself more hospitable to Marshall’s denizens, Samsung has been donating cash, monitors and recreational facilities to local charities and schools. (See Samsung sponsored ice skating rink pictured below in front of the Marshall’s historic court house.)
A well-researched and cited story that ran recently in Ars Technica lists of some of Samsung’s charitable activities, which include a field trip to a local semiconductor plant. The story starts out discussing how a Marshall jury has awarded $15.7 million to Rembrandt, a successful NPE that had sued Samsung over having infringed its bluetooth technology.
“The company also makes a habit of granting scholarships to high school students in Marshall and nearby Tyler,” reported Ars Technica, “giving a total of $50,000 last year. Winners receive photograph-worthy giant checks with a Samsung logo on them, and those images are often published in the local newspaper. The same check was on display in the News-Messenger when Samsung made a donation to Habitat for Humanity.
“No Samsung donation seems to be too small for the company’s public relations team to promote. The Samsung Holiday Celebration Show, an $8,000 donation of monitors to Marshall High School, and a field trip to an Austin semiconductor plant all made the News-Messenger. A 2012 op-ed referred to Samsung as ‘the South Korean company that has fortunately become Marshall’s benefactor.'”
Joe Mullin, veteran legal and technology reporter and “troll” tracker, provides a good analysis of Samsung’s charitable giving history in and around Marshall, TX. (Unfortunately, the Marshall News-Messenger seems to have deactivated most of the links.)
The discussion of charitable giving comes at the end of the bluetooth litigation story. It does not speculate whether it may have influenced the amount of the damages awarded in the case, which are relatively low for a jury award in a patent case against a company of this size. To be fair, Samsung was on the hook for only $15.7M, and the award could be the result of any number of factors, not just the mood of the jury.
What’s next for defendants in patent cases? Maybe Apple will erect a dream stadium for high school football in Tyler, TX, another popular patent venue — They could call it Apple Field: If you build it a jury will come give you a break.
Image source: arstechnica.com; graciousparadise.org