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Samsung files defamation suit against Dyson

SEOUL--Samsung Electronics, South Korea's largest electronic goods maker, filed a lawsuit for libel against Dyson, a UK vacuum cleaner manufacturer, claiming that the British company tarnished its reputation, according to industry sources on Sunday. Samsung took the case to the Seoul Central District Court on Friday.

The move came after Dyson withdrew its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung.

The compensation claimed is estimated to be 10 billion won (US$9.4 million), based on Samsung's brand value of about 63 trillion won, Samsung Electronics said.

However, the company said this was only the initial compensation, hinting that the settlement amount would rise down the road.

The dispute between the two companies dates back to last June when Samsung Electronics rolled out its new Motion Sync Vacuum Cleaner. A month later, Dyson issued proceedings in the English High Court against Samsung, claiming that Samsung's vacuum cleaner infringed Dyson's patent related to a steering mechanism that was the result of three years of research and development.

The steering mechanism enables cleaners to spin swiftly from one direction to another and to follow behind the person doing the vacuuming rather than having to be dragged.

Following the lawsuit, Dyson repeatedly lashed out at Samsung in the media. Dyson said in a statement, “This looks like a cynical rip-off by the giant Korean company Samsung.” Last September, Dyson CEO Max Conze said at the IFA trade show, “Motion Sync has infringed Dyson's patents. It is difficult to have fair competition when rivals copy our products.”

However, 74 days later, Dyson suddenly withdrew the case without an official explanation. Sources said the company appeared to have a low possibility of winning the case after Samsung submitted its technical data to the court to refute Dyson's claim. The court declared Dyson's patent null and void last November.

Samsung said, “Dyson devalued Samsung's products by denouncing the company without valid grounds as if Samsung habitually infringes patents.”

It added, “We took legal action as the damages have been very serious and there is a high possibility of the same thing happening again.”

This was the second time Dyson has filed a claim against Samsung over a patent issue. In 2009, Samsung was ordered to pay Dyson around 600,000 pounds (US$1 million) for trying to patent the vacuum cleaner firm's triple-cyclone technology.

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