The Southern District of New York ordered LG Electronics Inc. to arbitrate with technology patent licensing company Wi-LAN Inc. a dispute over whether certain LG television models infringe patents LG does not own.  The current dispute can be traced back to a 2012 Florida suit in which Wi-LAN alleged that two of its patents for video display technology were used in LG’s flat panel televisions without their consent. LG filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the televisions were subject to a previously entered into patent licensing agreement (the “PLA”), signed by both parties. In response, Wi-LAN filed a motion to compel arbitration based on language in the PLA that mandated arbitration in the case of disagreement between the parties.  LG subsequently brought suit in New York federal court seeking an injunction against arbitration in the Florida proceeding. LG argued that the matter should not be sent to arbitration because Wi-LAN waived its right to arbitrate under the PLA by suing LG for patent infringement initially.

The court determined that Wi-LAN had not waived this right because, even though Wi-LAN did not move to compel arbitration until approximately four months after it filed its Florida suit, LG could not show that it had suffered any prejudice as a result of this delay. Prejudice, the court noted, is the “key to waiver analysis.”  Further, the court held that the PLA contains “clear and unmistakable evidence that they intended the arbitrator to resolve both issues of contract interpretation and issues of arbitrability.” Consequently, it ordered that the arbitrator, and not the court, would determine whether the arbitration clause is inapplicable because Wi-LAN “chose” litigation.  LG Electronics, Inc. v. Wi-LAN USA, Inc., No. 13-CV-2237-RA, 2014 WL 3610796 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2014).