Hyundai Motor and Kia have faced a total of nine patent infringement lawsuits by eight different non-practicing entities (NPE), data from the Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency (KOIPA) showed.
The latest suit was filed in May against Hyundai Motor and Kia by US NPE MicroPairing Technologies at the District Court for the Central District of California.
The NPE claimed that Genesis and other car models launched by the South Korean pair had violated its patents in: Automobile audio application management system that uses a logic circuit, a system that makes an automobile audio system, method to limit access of the automobile software system, software management system, multi-tasking of a virtual computer on a secure environment and audio device management.
MicroPairing Technologies is demanding royalty and damage payments from the automobile makers.
In the first half of this year, Hyundai Motor and Kia combined sold 804,944 car models in the US, an increase of 48.1% from the previous year.
Prior to the suit with MicroPairing Technologies, Hyundai Motor and Kia had been sued by another NPE, Eagle Harbor Holdings, back in 2015. The NPE demanded over US$90 in royalty payment per every Ford automobile sold and US$285 million in damages.
MicroPairing had acquired its patents from Eagle Harbor Holdings back in 2017.
A KOIPA spokesperson said as the infotainment system market for automobiles continue to grow, the organization is expecting more NPEs to file suit against car makers such as Hyundai Motor and Kia.
Back in 2012, Hyundai Motor had to pay US$11.5 million in damages to US NPE Orion IP after five years of patent litigation.
People familiar with the matter said Hyundai Motor’s weakness in software makes it more vulnerable to related patent lawsuits.
The lack in competence stems from Hyundai Motor treating software developers like its hardware suppliers instead of collaborating with them, the people said.
The conglomerate will need to foster an ecosystem for automobile software going forward, they added.