Samsung sues Oura to block Oura from suing Samsung over the Galaxy Ring

Samsung has filed a lawsuit against Oura to try to head off intellectual property disputes as the Galaxy Ring launch draws near. The suit notes that Oura has used its patent portfolio to sue smaller wearable tech competitors and has hinted it may do the same against the much larger Samsung. Welcome to the weird modern world of mega-corporations suing startups to prevent them from filing suits of their own.

“Oura’s actions and public statements demonstrate that Oura will continue asserting patent infringement against other entrants into the U.S. smart ring market, including Samsung,” the lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, reads. “Oura’s immediate response to the announcement of the Galaxy Ring was to point to the purported strength of its intellectual property portfolio.”

The lawsuit claims the Galaxy Ring doesn’t infringe on Oura’s patents. However, in justifying its suit, it lays out a pattern of what it frames as aggressive IP protection by the Finnish startup. It lists cases where Oura sued smaller competitors like Ultrahuman, Circular and RingConn “as soon as, or even before, they entered the U.S. market.”

The document also cites Oura embarking on a media tour immediately following the Galaxy Ring announcement, touting the company’s “over 150 patents.” It specifically calls out patent-related quotes published by TechCrunch and a CNBC interview where Oura CEO Tom Hale hinted the company may use its IP portfolio against Samsung.

The third-generation Oura Ring sitting on a wooden table.

Daniel Cooper for Engadget

Samsung’s legal filing essentially tries to paint Oura as a patent troll, claiming many of the Finnish company’s patent disputes have been for features common to the entire category of smart rings, like electronics, sensors, a battery and scores that weigh health metrics. That approach conjures memories of Samsung’s old patent disputes with Apple. A common theme in those decade-old courtroom battles was Samsung accusing the iPhone maker of holding bogus patents that should never have been granted because they used obvious technologies or methods shared by the entire industry. (It worked with mixed results in those cases.)

Samsung filed its new lawsuit against Oura in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. Oura is based in Finland but has a US wing of its operations based in Delaware, including offices in San Francisco with more than 50 employees.

The lawsuit reveals extra detail about Samsung’s Galaxy Ring, which the company first showed off in a render in January before revealing physical models at the Mobile World Congress in February. The document says Samsung only finalized the Galaxy Ring’s design in “mid-May 2024” and plans to enter mass production in mid-June.

It adds that the Galaxy Ring will arrive in the US “in or around August of this year,” which aligns with expectations that the company will launch it at a summer Unpacked event.

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