04.21.17

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Affordable and Sophisticated Mobile Devices Are Kept Away by Patent Trolls and Aggressors That Tax Everything

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With hundreds of thousands of patents (around the world) on mobile technology, including SEPs, one is unable to operate without being sued ad infinitum

Patent thicket
Reference: Patent thicket

Summary: The war against commoditisation of mobile computing has turned a potentially thriving market with fast innovation rates into a war zone full of patent trolls (sometimes suing at the behest of large companies that hand them patents for this purpose)

THE MOBILE market (as in mobile phones, connections etc.) is a sordid mess when it comes to patents. It’s so saturated with patent thickets that one is unable to operate without being sued (or simply overtaxed) from every single direction. Simple devices now cost more than a sophisticated personal computer (where patents are expired or barely enforced anymore).

“Simple devices now cost more than a sophisticated personal computer (where patents are expired or barely enforced anymore).”As mentioned in this older post of ours, Samsung now need to pay a lot of money to Rembrandt Wireless (Rembrandt Wireless Technologies LP), which is a patent troll that relied on a jury in Texas (the capital of patent trolling). Here is one new article about it:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit remanded part of a patent suit earlier this week, meaning that Samsung may not have to pay the full $15.7 million in damages to Rembrandt Wireless.

Handed down on Monday, April 17, the Federal Circuit’s ruling disagreed with the district court’s denial of Samsung’s motion based on the marking statute, so it remanded the issue.

Samsung is not even an American company, it is Korean.

“Will we finally see the demise of Qualcomm, which is a relic that has been reduced to just patent aggression?”To make matters worse, a ‘supertroll’, Qualcomm [1, 2], has been grabbing a lot of money (possibly billions) from Samsung and only a decade too late Judge Lucy Haeran Koh, an American judge of Korean descent, decides to look into the case. As Florian Müller put it the other day: “After last week’s joint case management statement in FTC v. Qualcomm (Northern District of California), Qualcomm filed a revised proposed schedule on Monday. Judge Koh had denied a stay of discovery and asked Qualcomm to revise its proposed schedule accordingly. Now Judge Koh has set a schedule that is materially consistent with the FTC’s proposal and a lot more ambitious than Qualcomm’s revised schedule (this post continues below the document)…”

Will we finally see the demise of Qualcomm, which is a relic that has been reduced to just patent aggression? IAM, the voice of patent trolls, says this week that “Qualcomm reveals $150 million dispute with licensee as it provides more detail on Apple lawsuit” and here is the key part:

There was plenty to discuss yesterday on Qualcomm’s call with analysts concerning the company’s latest quarterly results. On the positive side the company is in the final stages of its acquisition of NXP Semiconductors and reported that it is seeing strong sales in China, a market where it has had some well-publicised problems.

But throughout the call there was an Apple sized cloud hanging over the discussions as the company updated its position in its high-profile dispute with the iPhone manufacturer. It also revealed an additional dispute, unconnected with the Apple case, with an additional, unnamed licensee, which has resulted in an underpayment in royalties of more than $150 million.

That’s a lot of money. Apple is challenging this and we hope that Apple wins because it would also help Android OEMs if Apple got its way.

Meanwhile, as per Apple advocacy sites, patent troll Acacia is at it again. It is a patent troll with Microsoft connections and according to Apple Insider, “Apple and a handful of partner cellular carriers are the target of a new lawsuit leveled by Acacia Research subsidiary Cellular Communications Equipment, which alleges the iPhone maker infringed and continues to infringe on four patents developed by Nokia covering messaging, emergency alerts and other key cellular technologies.”

“Apple is challenging this and we hope that Apple wins because it would also help Android OEMs if Apple got its way.”A day earlier Apple Insider wrote that “Apple settles Unwired Planet patent suit for undisclosed amount” (via). Unwired Planet is a patent troll that now operates in Europe, too (it does for Ericsson what MOSAID/Conversant does for Microsoft through Nokia). It recently got its way in London and Germany is already attracting lots of patent lawsuits (many of which are initiated by trolls now), from companies that are not even German. Whose system is this? Here is a new press release titled “Motorola Solutions Files Patent Infringement Complaints in Germany Against Hytera Communications and Hytera Mobilfunk” (another case involving mobile).

Regarding the troll lawsuit in London, which we covered here very recently, this new guest post by Prof. Mark Patterson from Fordham Law (patent maximalists) covers it by promoting FRAND patent thickets. It’s mostly FRAND advocacy but it is supporting a notorious patent troll in the process. Here is the outline: “Last week Professor Jorge Contreras provided here an excellent summary of the April 5 decision of Mr. Justice Birss of the UK’s High Court of Justice in Unwired Planet International Ltd. v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., [2017] EWHC 711. The case addresses the problems that arise in determining FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing terms. Professor Contreras highlighted several novel aspects of the decision.”

“In China right now there is not a thicket but smog of low-quality patents.”What we have here is a disturbing passage of trolling venues into Europe (for which the EPO can be partly blamed). The same thing is happening in China, which the EPO seems to be imitating. In China right now there is not a thicket but smog of low-quality patents. SIPO’s quality control is a joke, resulting in protectionism for massive corporations that create a patent thicket in China. Here is Huawei, a government-connected company, having a go against Korea’s government-connected company and getting its way in Chinese courts. To quote government-connected Chinese press: “Huawei Technologies Co Ltd scored another point in its patent fight with its rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in China, which may weigh down on the South Korean company’s business in the world’s largest smartphone arena.” As IAM admitted yesterday, patent lawsuits in China skyrocket due to SIPO’s policy (patent microcosm profits at the expense of real workers). IAM says that “civil patent litigation cases increased by 20% compared to last year.” It also says “we’ll be getting a lot of statistical insight into China’s relatively closed court system in the coming days as the Supreme People’s Court releases white papers summing up how many IP case were filed and by whom in 2016.”

“This is anything but desirable and it’s antithetical to the patent system as it was perceived at the time of inception.”What it all boils down to is more patents and a lot more patent lawsuits over mobile devices; each such lawsuit will ultimately artificially elevate the price of phones and money will typically end up in the pockets of lawyers, not technologists. At the same time phones will have featured removed from them (intentionally hobbled), meaning inferior products available in the market. This is anything but desirable and it’s antithetical to the patent system as it was perceived at the time of inception.

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