Patent battles in the technology space sometimes come down to “Goliath-vs.-Goliath” throwdowns, like the ongoing legal fights between Samsung and Apple. Often, when there is a “David” involved in these patent lawsuits, that smaller participant is a non-practicing entity – sometimes known as a “patent troll.”

But other times, lost in the shuffle of the mega-battles and troll fights, a small, innovative company goes up against a giant. In August, for example, Dyson, the British company known for making vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, went up against Samsung, claiming the Korean electronics firm was infringing on one of Dyson’s patents, which involves a steering mechanism on the MotoSync Range.

Samsung was able to produce prior art, which demonstrated that it was not infringing, and Dyson withdrew the suit. But now, Samsung has decided to fight back, treating Dyson like a troll. The electronics giant has filed a lawsuit against Dyson, to the tune of about $9 million. Samsung claims that the initial Dyson suit harmed its reputation.

“Samsung’s marketing activities were negatively affected by Dyson’s groundless litigation, which is intolerable,” a spokesperson from Samsung told the Korea Times. The suit smacks of sour grapes, as it is hard to believe that a giant company like Samsung would worry too much about the claims of a small company like Dyson, especially amidst a sea of other patent cases that are bouncing around various courtrooms.

Representatives from Dyson expressed similar disbelief in an interview with the UK edition of Wired. “We patent our technology, and naturally defend it. It is surprising that a company over 100 times bigger than Dyson is so worried.”

For its part, Samsung is sticking to its guns, contending that Dyson is not that different from trolls that seek to extort money from companies using weak patents. Maybe Samsung is bitter about other cases not going its way, and is just looking to take out its aggression elsewhere. Sure sucks for the vacuum maker.


For more on Samsung and its patent wars, check out the following:

Department of Justice closes Samsung patent probe

Samsung and Cisco enter IP cross-licensing agreement

Judge makes early rulings in Apple/Samsung case