According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Samsung spent $800,000 on lobbying Washington last year, with $480,000 going to lobbying outfit Akin Gump in the fourth quarter. However, it is still nowhere near Apple, which spent $1.97 million last year. In 2011, Washington lobbyists got $2.2 million from Cupertino, Politico reports.
Samsung’s decision to ramp up lobbying comes as no surprise, as the company is embroiled in a number of lengthy legal disputes with Apple. Last year Samsung was slapped with a $1 billion fine in a patent case against Apple. While it might sound like a huge fine, paying just $1 billion to get on top of the smartphone market is arguably a good deal.
Samsung’s deal with Akin Gump seems to revolve around IP infringement. The Korean giant is expanding its political presence on other fronts as well. At CES, the company enlisted former US President Bill Clinton to join Samsung’s president during the keynote.
Clinton is still popular and his lengthy speech at the Democratic National Convention in September overshadowed the address delivered by US President Barack Obama. However, with US politics more divisive than ever, Samsung’s publicity stunt could backfire and prompt some patriotic Republicans to buy Apple gear. Because nothing is as American as buying a phone built in China, powered by Redcoat ARM chips, with a screen built in Japan and some NAND fresh out of Korea. To be fair, it would be rather tricky to build an all-American phone, since America doesn’t really make anything anymore. Except war.
At the same time, Samsung is also expanding its research and development facilities in Silicon Valley. It hired a new head of innovation, who told MIT’s Technology Review that he uses Apple gear at home.