By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics said Tuesday that it will open an office exclusively designed for lobbying activities in the U.S. this year to support its business in the world's largest smartphone market.
It is now recruiting experienced lobbyists ahead of the full operation of the office in Washington, D.C.
The move comes as the Korean electronics giant has expanded spending on lobbying activities in the U.S. in the midst of a deepening patent dispute with Apple.
''Considering Samsung's increased brand awareness in the United States and business expansion, selling products isn't enough. With accelerating efforts on lobbying that's within the law, we will be able to defend our corporate interests in a better way,'' said an Samsung executive by telephone, Tuesday.
The executive said the company's increased presence in the U.S. capital will help it better deal with important pending issues.
''Samsung is being challenged by many American companies over market share and interests in the United States as we've grown and will further grow. Due to this, we need to persuade influential politicians and interested parties to support us by beefing up our lobbying activity,'' said the executive.
''We are also collaborating with various government-funded projects in the United States,'' he said. Samsung is expanding its research and development facilities in Silicon Valley. It has hired a new head of innovation, who told MIT's Technology Review that he uses Apple products at home.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), the Suwon, Gyeonggi Province-based outfit spent $850,000 on lobbying Washington last year with $480,000 going to lobbying outfit Akin Gump in the fourth quarter alone. It was the largest annual spending by the firm for lobbying.
The CRP analyzed that this increase in spending follows strong sales by Samsung Electronics, which last week reported revenue of $25 billion for the fourth quarter, and an increase in quarterly sales of 90 percent.
Google was the top spender on lobbying last year at $18.2 million, followed by Microsoft's $8 million, Facebook's $4 million, Apple's $1.97 million and Samsung.
Apple spent $540,000 for just the fourth quarter of last year. Most of the amount was spent for U.S. Patent Office, U.S. International Trade Commission and other intellectual property-related issues, according to the CRP.