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Samsung LED settlement worth $150 million, nanotech firm says

An employee of Samsung Electronics walks past LED lighting drums displayed for visitors at a showroom in Seoul

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co has agreed to pay $150 million to British nanotechnology company Nanoco Technologies to settle patent lawsuits over technology used in Samsung's LED televisions, Nanoco and an investor in its cases said Friday.

Nanoco and Chicago-based litigation funding firm GLS Capital said in a release that the settlement, which includes a license agreement and the "transfer of certain patents," resolves litigation in the United States, Germany and China.

Samsung and Nanoco told a Texas federal court on the eve of a trial last month that they had agreed to settle the dispute, but no terms were disclosed at the time.

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Representatives for Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nanoco's quantum dots improve the backlighting of LED displays without the use of toxic heavy metals like cadmium. It sued Samsung in 2020, alleging the Korean tech giant copied its technology after receiving samples during talks about a potential collaboration.

The Texas lawsuit said Samsung began incorporating Nanoco's technology into high-end QLED TVs launched in 2017.

Third-party funding of lawsuits has becoming increasingly common in recent years, though details about specific investments are rarely publicized. Critics such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have warned that the practice obscures who is driving lawsuits and promotes unnecessary litigation. Backers say it can level the playing field and promote justice.

Nanoco CEO Brian Tenner said in a statement that GLS Capital's financing "allowed us to pursue our claims on equal footing against a much larger adversary."

GLS co-founder Adam Gill said Nanoco would receive more than 60% of the proceeds from the settlement but declined to offer additional details on their funding agreement. He said the firm was "proud" to have supported Nanoco in the dispute.

GLS subsidiary Celerity IP is separately managing Taiwanese tech company Asustek Computer Inc's effort to enforce its portfolio of 3G, 4G and 5G wireless patents, Gill said.

The case is Nanoco Technologies Ltd v. Samsung Electronics Co, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 2:20-cv-00038.

For Nanoco: Michael Newman, Jim Wodarski, Michael Renaud, Tom Wintner and Matt Galica of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo

For Samsung: Greg Arovas, Ed Donovan and Jeanne Heffernan of Kirkland & Ellis

Read more:

Samsung, Nanoco settle patent dispute over LED TVs just before trial

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington)