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US interests, struggles with Apple spark Samsung lobbying push

Samsung, following its landmark patent infringement loss to chief rival Apple, has more than redoubled its efforts to influence the federal government on a range of issues, including intellectual property laws.


Source: U.S. House of Representatives

Citing regulatory filings from Samsung, Bloomberg on Thursday showed that the South Korean conglomerate spent six times more on lobbying in 2012 than it did in 2011.

The growth in spending — from $150,000 in 2011 to $900,000 in 2012 — coincided with both increasing sales for Samsung smartphones and a ramp up in its legal struggles with Apple. Lobbying expenditures for 2012 topped the company's previous high mark, which was $370,000 in 2008. Since then, revenues from Samsung's U.S. mobile sales have more than doubled from $8.9 billion to $18.5 billion.

Of Samsung's lobbying dollars, $760,000 went to the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which as also done work on behalf of AT&T, Lenovo, and Google. Samsung spent the second most among Akin Gump et al's clientele, after Gila River Indian Community. Of the remainder of Samsung's lobbying funds, $120,000 went to its subsidiary Samsung Information Systems America, and another $20,000 went to the firm Aerman, Senterfitt & Eidson.

Samsung's ongoing patent struggles with Apple likely make up a large part of the reasoning behind the increased lobbying spending. Those struggles last year resulted in a $1.05 billion jury verdict against Samsung, though a judge recently vacated roughly 40 percent of that total.

Aside from Apple, Samsung's lobbying efforts touch on virtually every aspect of the South Korean conglomerate's many business ventures. It must defend itself to U.S. regulators against dumping allegations raised against its washing machines by Whirlpool. Its plans to expand its chip production facility in Austin, Texas, must pass regulatory inspection. The company must also defend its own intellectual property rights, having won more than 5,000 U.S. patents since 2006, the most of any company other than IBM.

Compared to other tech giants, though, Samsung's lobbying expenditures are miniscule. Apple, which reduced lobbying spending in 2012, spent $2 million, more than twice Samsung's total. Meanwhile, Google, which recently wrapped up a number of anti-trust investigations with the government, spent $18.22 million in 2012, more than 20 times Samsung.

Samsung in a statement said the increased spending was "a prudent step as part of day-to-day business operations, our growing presence outside of our headquarters country, and our commitment to transparency."