Yonhap News reports that the Korean cousins Samsung and LG are in a row over the eye-tracking technology in their respective flagship phones, the Galaxy S4 and Optimus G Pro. The feature at the center of the controversy is called Smart Pause by Samsung and Smart Video by LG, and lets users pause a playing video by looking away from the screen. LG says it applied for the relevant patent in 2009 (as well as other eye-tracking inventions as far back as 2005) and plans to check if Samsung's phone infringes when it launches next month. Samsung, of course, denies infringing LG’s patent, saying it has its own technology and used different methods for its own implementation. The two companies' phones are both scheduled for release in April.
Over the past year, the rivalry and mimicry between Korea’s top two electronics companies has reached insane new heights. The pair both announced 55-inch OLED TVs at CES in 2012, and while both were severely behind schedule, LG eventually shipped its panel, beating its longtime rival to market. When Samsung announced a curved OLED TV at CES 2013, LG was quick to respond, trotting out its own "world’s first" curved panel within a couple of hours.
The armistice doesn't seem to be lasting very long
The friction was being mirrored behind the scenes, too, where the pair had been at loggerheads over the underlying technology, suing each other for various OLED patent violations. To top it off, Samsung had filed another suit in its home country in December, claiming that LG infringed its LCD patents, and asking the court to ban the offending products. While those cases have since been settled out of court, the armistice doesn’t seem to be lasting very long. Whether it's antagonistic billboards or lawsuits about refrigerator capacity in advertising, it looks like the two chaebols just can't get along.