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11.09.17

Apple v Samsung Dominates the News, But Samsung Has Just Taken on MPEG-LA Using PTAB Inter Partes Reviews

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bin of Software Patents

Summary: Samsung is attempting to trash multimedia patents (HEVC), which are essentially software patents, but the media is focused on the Supreme Court’s refusal to revisit software patents in Apple v Samsung

THE MPEG patent cartel is a subject we wrote many articles about, especially around 2010. It’s not only a barrier to Free/libre Open Source software but to every small company. It’s a thicket of software patents which miraculously took hold even in countries that had already banned such patents. Korea is one of those countries and it seems as though Samsung is finally fed up with this cartel. As IAM put it this week, “Samsung targets fellow pool member’s HEVC patents as dispute escalates” and here are the details (with the obligatory pro-trolls bias/slant):

A fight between Samsung Electronics and a fellow member of MPEG LA’s HEVC patent pool escalated late last month as the Korean tech giant launched four inter partes reviews (IPR) against patents owned by Ibex PT Holdings. All of the patents targeted by Samsung are a part of the HEVC pool, which relates to video compression technology used in 4K HDTV and other video formats.

Samsung brought two IPRs against Ibex late last year, both of which were denied institution, but significantly ramped up its fight in October filing two reviews at the start of the month followed by the more recent quartet of filings. The company has brought a total of eight IPRs against three patents owned by its fellow HEVC pool member.

It is very unusual for pool members to target each other’s IP in this way. The standard practice is for each licensor in a pool to receive licences to all of the patents owned by the other pool members so they don’t pose an assertion risk. Therefore moving to invalidate another pool member’s IP suggests that Samsung is frustrated that Ibex continues to receive a slice of revenues on patents that the Korean company clearly feels shouldn’t have been granted in the first place.

These four inter partes reviews will help demonstrate the value of PTAB, which we shall cover separately (lots happening there this week). Can these SEPs (standard-essential patents) be tackled once and for all? There are probably too many pertinent patents in there for that to be achievable, but one can help. Pretty much all of these patents would be software patents, which Alice renders invalid.

Speaking of SEPs, ITC has been getting involved, according to IAM which wrote:

You just don’t get injunctions in cases relating to standard essential patents in the US, do you? Absolutely not, in almost all circumstances. However, during a presentation at last week’s IPBC Asia in Tokyo, Vinson & Elkins partner John Fuisz drew delegates’ attention to a recent initial determination in an ITC case that might lead to that changing. In the Matter of Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing Same – involving Japanese companies Sony and Fujifilm – has opened the door to the possibility, in some circumstances, of SEP owners being able to use the commission as a forum through which to obtain injunctive relief.

SEP injunctions (embargoes) — more so than SEPs themselves — are seriously unjust. But these are the sorts of things IAM likes to promote, even in its events in Asia (like the above). That’s all about agenda and it’s pretty clear whose. Sadly, a lot of media that covers patent matters is just marketing and lobbying. Here’s a new example of a fake article, an advertisement disguised as “news” for a firm that represents patent trolls (Fish & Richardson).

In other news about Samsung, there’s yet more coverage about Apple v Samsung (we wrote about it over the weekend) and people aren’t happy about the Supreme Court denying intervention. We’ve received some long E-mails after our article about it, which basically argued that the only positive thing is Alice remaining in tact (without risk of challenge).

“Apart from the slide-to-unlock patent,” said Indian press, “the case also involved the quick links patent, which covered software that automatically turned information like a phone number into an accessible link.”

Software patents.

Florian Müller wrote a relatively short post about this. The half-full glass:

Samsung made a lot of headway with respect to design patent damages, and will get a new trial. In that context, the Supreme Court had granted a cert petition by Samsung and overruled the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court might have been particularly hesitant to hear yet another Apple v. Samsung case.

In the meantime Apple has been sued for alleged patent violations again (not software). We don’t suppose Apple intends to start any other (new) case against Android any time soon. Since the death of Steve Jobs not much new has happened on that front.

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” ~Steve Jobs

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