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05.27.17

Patent Dangers to Linux and Android: Qualcomm, Apple, and Nokia

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents, Samsung at 6:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The prevailing problem which is companies with mountains of patents going after OEMs, using a bulk of infringement accusations, and demanding ‘protection’ money

IN the US, Qualcomm has just made a move to stop Apple, which already stopped paying Qualcomm and is leading somewhat of a rebellion against Qualcomm (under trouble in multiple continents).

In Korea, Qualcomm is in troubled waters too. Korean companies like Samsung are also affected, so the actions against Qualcomm are bipartisan from the iOS/Android perspective. Qualcomm upsets everyone.

Days ago, according to this, “Apple had a deadline for responding to Samsung’s mid-March petition for writ of certiorari” (request for Supreme Court review) in the second California Apple v. Samsung case, which had received very significant support from software and Internet companies, non-governmental organizations and law professors.”

Apple’s patent war on Samsung seems to have become a distraction as meanwhile, in the past few years, Huawei became the largest Android OEM. That used to be Nokia, which is now preoccupied with patents and has just settled with Apple again. The Finnish media wrote that “Nokia and Apple settle intellectual property {sic} lawsuits, become partners” (they mean patents). It happened just a few days ago:

Finnish communications giant Nokia and US tech behemoth Apple announced on Tuesday that they have settled all of their litigation and signed a patent license and a business cooperation agreement.

As noted here, “Apple and Nokia announced a settlement today after only about 5 months of litigation. Apple v. Samsung has been going for more than 6 yrs…”

What a waste of time and energy. Only lawyers profit from these battles.

As noted in this article, we don’t know who pays and how much, but we can only guess that Nokia is paid by Apple, for it has more patents in this area and reports were always suggestive of a demand from Nokia (for a number of years):

The companies said today they have settled all outstanding litigation and agreed to a patent license. While exact financial terms are confidential, Apple will be making an up-front cash payment to Nokia, followed by additional payments over the course of the agreement.

Microsoft has already spread Nokia’s patents to patent trolls, scattering these in a way that harms Android. It’s problematic for many reasons and we mostly care about the effect on GNU/Linux.

05.14.17

Industry Giants Challenge Qualcomm’s Patent Practices While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Closely Examines Such Behavior

Posted in America, Antitrust, Apple, Hardware, Patents, Samsung at 3:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Qualcomm doesn’t do much but collect patent royalties

Qualcomm building
Photo credit: Coolcaesar

Summary: Scrutiny of Qualcomm’s patent aggression and coercion — scrutiny that can profoundly change the way software patents, SEPs and FRAND are viewed — as seen in various amicus briefs (amici) from industry giants that are affected

THE many patents granted primarily by the USPTO to Qualcomm continue to represent a threat to the productive industry, as we noted earlier this year [1, 2, 3, 4].

“Remember that it was a Samsung foe, Apple, which played a big role in this battle and has in fact stopped paying Qualcomm (which sent the stock nosediving).”Belatedly, companies are complaining and regulators take a closer look at Qualcomm’s behaviour. Even a Microsoft AstroTurfing/front group, Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), is going to intervene, based on Florian Müller, who wrote a couple of new posts late on a Friday [1, 2], having just scrutinised new documents.

“Intel’s brief in FTC v. Qualcomm is pretty good,” he wrote. “It was just too late for me to still comment on it yesterday. Will do so next week.”

He quotes from the brief: “For years Qualcomm has maintained an interlocking web of abusive patent & commercial practices that subverts competition on merits” (hypocritical for Intel to state that).

Here is what Samsung had to say. “Samsung just filed an amicus brief supporting the FTC against Qualcomm,” Müller noted, “explaining how it’s being harmed by QCOM’s conduct in two biz areas.”

From his post about it:

In today’s opposition to a Qualcomm motion to dismiss the FTC’s antitrust complaint, the FTC says “[o]ther chipmakers may not wish to sue Qualcomm for a number of reasons, including fear of countersuit for infringement, escalation, litigation fees, disrupted relationships with OEMs [...].” While all of that can affect a chipmaker’s calculus, the situation is far worse for device makers: they have to fear massive disruption should Qualcomm cease to supply its chipsets to them. Also, Qualcomm’s rebate deals (that effectively result in some patent royalties being paid back) appear to be tied to total abstention from any kind of antitrust action against Qualcomm. All in all, it’s like a strangehold on an entire industry.

Remember that it was a Samsung foe, Apple, which played a big role in this battle and has in fact stopped paying Qualcomm (which sent the stock nosediving). Here is some of the latest:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just responded to Qualcomm’s motion to dismiss its antitrust complaint in the Northern District of California….

We have studied some of the above and it certainly seems like most of the industry, not just the FTC, is eager to put an end to Qualcomm’s exploitation of software patents to make money out of nothing but “licensing”.

05.07.17

Qualcomm Has Collapsed Since the Antitrust Actions Began

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Patents at 5:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Qualcomm shares

Summary: The shakeup at Qualcomm gives room for hope that regulatory agencies will end patent injustice and let the market be driven by performance, not protectionism for companies that cannot perform

THE one company that barely makes anything but patent deals is Qualcomm [1, 2, 3, 4]. In our past articles we gave some background and in our latest article we showed the effect on the stock when Apple stopped paying.

“Qualcomm’s desire to gain leverage over Apple is obvious,” Florian Müller wrote, “but (for now) I can’t see how it could portray Apple as an “unwilling licensee.””

Joshua Wolson from Dilworth Paxson LLP said that FTC’s Qualcomm Investigation Is Important” a few days ago when he wrote (mostly behind paywall):

America fashions itself as a cradle of innovation. We encourage entrepreneurs and try to provide robust intellectual property protection to encourage inventions and innovations. American inventions and inventors impact the world over, however. Indeed, we live in an interconnected world. Our devices are connected. Our personal networks are interconnected. Increasingly, our legal and regulatory structures are interconnected, as well. This is particularly true when it comes to antitrust enforcement.

We intend to keep watching this case as it impacts just about any Android OEM and most companies that work with GNU/Linux on devices. Qualcomm now faces serious regulatory actions in several continents and how it pans out can impact laws pertaining to software patents, FRAND, and SEPs.

04.22.17

Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Still unleashing trolls like Intellectual Ventures at competitors that are actually successful at selling products

A bat

Summary: Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)

PATENT trolls are not just a nuisance. Sometimes they are intermediaries. For instance, Ericsson used a patent troll in order to sue in London and it won earlier this month. Microsoft does something similar and they both go after devices that run Linux, albeit they attack these not directly. They want the ‘protection’ money without all the negative publicity this entails (brand erosion).

“They want the ‘protection’ money without all the negative publicity this entails (brand erosion).”IAM has published this blog post about “Intellectual Discovery” [sic; twice even, for both words], revealing that it feeds trolls that litigate in the Eastern District of Texas. To quote: “Document Security Systems (DSS) has filed lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of LED-related patents acquired from Intellectual Discovery. The assertion campaign – and its eventual outcome – could represent a major test not just for the embattled publicly traded IP company (PIPCO) model, but also for sovereign patent funds (SPFs) and third-party IP litigation funding at a time when pure-play patent monetisation has become riskier than ever before.”

Not too long ago we wrote that “Bascom Research is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lexington Technology Group, which announced its merger with Document Security Systems…”

“Microsoft would be too hypocritical to join Apple in complaints about Qualcomm (which does similar things to Microsoft on the patent front), so its meddling in complaints appear to have adopted a very familiar intermediary.”Bascom became better known for a CAFC case involving software patents (in their favour) — the very thing that CAFC usually bins straight away.

Microsoft would be too hypocritical to join Apple in complaints about Qualcomm (which does similar things to Microsoft on the patent front), so its meddling in complaints appear to have adopted a very familiar intermediary. William New covered this at IP Watch and Florian Müller had beaten him to it with this post based on a quick tipoff. To quote: “I just received–and wanted to immediately share–an open letter addressed by major automotive and information and communications technology companies to President Donald J. Trump, urging him to shield the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from political interference that could derail the ongoing antitrust litigation in the Northern District of California against Qualcomm (this post continues below the document)…”

“Nokia is commercially if not medically/clinically dead, but Microsoft ended up scattering the company’s patents into the hands of patent trolls that Microsoft is able to control.”Worth noting are the non-corporate entities in there. Notice that Microsoft’s AstroTurfing front ACT is in there too. This is a bunch of patent thugs who now devise patent trolls as a weapon against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, as we explained this month and last month [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. They have, for example, passed Nokia‘s patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (renamed since, after a lot of negative publicity) and today we learn that the Acacia lawsuit which we mentioned here the other day (Friday) utilises a bunch of patents from Nokia in fact! As Joe Mullin put it, the Microsoft-connected Acacia “uses ex-Nokia patents to sue Apple, phone carriers…” (that’s the headline).

The largest publicly traded patent-assertion company, Acacia Research, has launched a new lawsuit (PDF) against Apple and all the major cell phone carriers.

Cellular Communications Equipment, LLC, a unit of Acacia, has sued Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The company says that the five industry giants infringe four patents related to basic cell phone technologies. All four patents originated at Nokia, which has been sharing its patents in so-called “patent privateering” arrangements for some years now.

[...]

Another company using Nokia patents, MobileMedia Ideas, won a $3 million jury verdict last year. Nokia did a major deal with another patent-licensing company, Pendrell, in 2013.

Just witness the degree of corruption and recall what Microsoft entryism inside Nokia has caused (we have a lot more to say about it in the future). Nokia is commercially if not medically/clinically dead, but Microsoft ended up scattering the company’s patents into the hands of patent trolls that Microsoft is able to control. Quite a clever strategy… if you want to be evil.

04.17.17

Patents Roundup: Microsoft, Embargo, Tax Evasion, Surveillance, and Censorship

Posted in America, Antitrust, Microsoft, Patents at 2:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

All the ‘great’ things that patent maximalism (insatiable appetite for more and more patents) has given society

Big appetite

Summary: An excess of patents and their overutilisation for purposes other than innovation (or dissemination of knowledge) means that society has much to lose, sometimes more than there is to gain

THE FOLLOWING potpourri of news spans a period of about 2 weeks. It hasn’t quite fit into or blended with our usual themes of coverage, but the pertinent developments are noteworthy, at least in brief.

Trolls of Microsoft

In his recent article (behind paywall until recently), entitled “Software patents in the cloud,” LWN’s Jonathan Corbet missed the full picture and failed to recognise that Azure and patents are a toxic mix similar to the Novell deal (2006), as we explained here a dozen times before, e.g. in [1, 2]. The closest he got to it is this part:

While Microsoft claims that it doesn’t normally transfer patents to trolls, this offering could be said to create a sort of moral hazard for the company. If a patent or two were to, somehow, end up in the hands of a troll that started asserting them widely, any customer thinking of leaving Azure would have to weigh the increased risk of attack that would result from such a move.

Microsoft is already passing patents to trolls — those which it can tame/control. We gave many examples. It’s imperative that people familiarise themselves with what Microsoft is up to now. It’s as nefarious as ever.

“Microsoft is already passing patents to trolls — those which it can tame/control.”This other new article totally missed the point of what Microsoft is really doing here. Microsoft is extorting legitimate companies. It’s essentially attacking Linux-powered products using patents, but the article’s headline uses words like “share patents”. Hilarious or outrageous?

Age of Embargo

When you cannot compete, as the saying goes, cheat. Or just embargo the competition. Manging IP will tell you how to do it in this event that it’s organising. To quote: “Speakers on an International Trade Commission panel at Manging IP’s recent US Patent Forum analysed recent notable cases such as February’s Organik Kimya Federal Circuit decision and gave best practices on enforcing an exclusion order” (“exclusion order” is another euphemism among many for embargo/sanction/injunction).

“When you cannot compete, as the saying goes, cheat.”There is a new example of this in the news. It was covered a week ago by American and British media [1, 2] (see background about this case, the Arista case, in older articles of ours).

To quote The Register:

Arista has been cleared by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to start shipping modified products to the United States again.

Arista sought the right to do so because of its long-running litigation with Cisco, which believes Arista has pinched its intellectual property.

So the company was threatened with embargo until it hobbled/ruined its own products. Cui bono?

“So the company was threatened with embargo until it hobbled/ruined its own products.”Just envision a UPC-imposed embargo if the EPO gets its way…

Saving Lives

The reforms at the USPTO may already be saving lives. PTAB recently took on a patent from Novartis and here is the latest on this from Patently-O:

This post follows-up on my recent essay on Novartis v. Torrent Pharma. If you recall, that decision by Judge Chen affirmed an IPR trial decision cancelling the claims of the Novartis patent as obvious.

[...]

FDA Approval: Moving back to the facts of Novartis, the patentee argued that its commercial success was based upon “Gilenya being the first commercially-available solid oral multiple sclerosis treatment.” Although that statement is true, the court found the commercial-availability focus misplaced for a non-obviousness argument.

MedCo v Mylan

Recently, Patently-O also covered MedCo v Mylan. Here is the key portion (in our humble assessment): “To spell out the results here. The appellate court reversed the district court’s decision based upon its revised claim construction. The claims require “batches” of the active ingredient that “have a maximum impurity level.” The court construed that term to require a consistent process for making all the batches, and then looked to the specification to note that the patentee intended to use an “efficient mixing” process as that consistent process since that was the type of process described in the specification; And then finally zeroed-in on the the “efficient mixing” process and required that it follow the particulars of “example 5” of the patent since that was the only detailed example given of efficient mixing. With that narrowed claim construction, non infringement was easy.”

Tax Evasion With Patents

Recently, wrote this Twitter user about the “Patent Box Regime”, this article in British media explained how it “enables UK companies to elect for a lower tax rate for profits earned from patented inventions…”

“Another facility for tax evasion, this time disguised as “innovation”?”We wrote a great deal about Patent Boxes, essentially yet another tax-dodging routine which sheds negative light on patents in general. To quote from the article itself: “The patent box regime enables UK companies to elect for a lower tax rate for profits earned from patented inventions and certain other intellectual property rights. The tax rate is being phased in but will be 10% by 1 April 2017.”

Who said there’s no future for the British economy after the Brexit disaster? Another facility for tax evasion, this time disguised as “innovation”? Another way to entice/incentivise businesses to come? If they bother at all…

Wearable Surveillance

“Sometimes patents are “good” in the sense that they discourage companies from doing malicious things (that are patented).”Mitek pursued a software patent on surveillance and it recently got it [1, 2]. So is someone going to be sued next? Well, in a sense we certainly hope so as the practice of such pervasive surveillance needs to be limited if not altogether eliminated. Sometimes patents are “good” in the sense that they discourage companies from doing malicious things (that are patented).

“Should Patent Law Be a First Amendment Issue?”

“The reality is, the public debate about patents is being perturbed; it’s not dominated by people who are affected by patents but by people who made patents (and patents alone) their livelihood.”There is an upcoming debate in Stanford in which Professor Lemley and others will participate. It’s about how software patents harm free speech, according to CAFC. Not only moderate voices will participate in this debate but also software patents proponents (not engineers but law firms) like Robert Sachs‏. “I’ll be speaking next week on Section 101 and the First Amendment,” he wrote. Why not focus on what programmers and engineers have to say? Why are they so often excluded from such debates? Who else might be at this debate? Radicals like Watchtroll? Who now protects a patent bully, as usual?

The reality is, the public debate about patents is being perturbed; it’s not dominated by people who are affected by patents but by people who made patents (and patents alone) their livelihood. It’s like letting arms manufacturers take charge of foreign policy.

04.13.17

The World is Burning for Qualcomm, Whose Dependence on Software Patent Bullying is Being Tackled in Several Continents

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Asia, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A company stuck in the past with nothing but a pile of patents (like Nokia)

Qualcomm phone

Summary: The days of Qualcomm’s cash cow (a bunch of standard essential patents) may be numbered, as US, EU and Korean authorities belatedly look at the company’s practices and Qualcomm already caves

Qualcomm’s de facto monopoly (in the patents sense), as we’ve covered here before [1, 2], means that people pay Qualcomm a lot of money even when they buy nothing from Qualcomm. In some sense, Qualcomm does in chipsets what Microsoft does in software. It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.

Qualcomm Lies

“It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.”Not too long ago Qualcomm came under fire from Apple, even though it had abused many other companies. Florian Müller had a peek at the latest documents and found Qualcomm claiming “credit for enabling Pokémon GO,” which is of course nonsense. To quote Müller:

As the number of pages (the original complaint was approx. 100 pages, now the answer and the counterclaims fill 140 pages) shows, this is a huge commercial litigation and threatens to turn into a battle of materiel. Both parties have enlisted multiple major law firms. The first surprise here is that Quinn Emanuel is among the three firms representing Qualcomm, given that Qualcomm’s filing (in paragraph 192 of the counterclaims part) accuses Samsung–another company QE is defending against Apple–of sharing (with Apple) “a common interest in diminishing Qualcomm’s ability to obtain fair value for its innovations” and trying “to avoid paying fair value for Qualcomm’s intellectual property and to impede Qualcomm’s licensing program.” I wonder how Samsung feels about its own lawyers not distancing themselves from such allegations…

Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale? As one Android-centric site put it, Qualcomm has “Big Trouble in Little Korea” and an Apple-centric site said that “[i]n a 134-page filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Qualcomm provides a point-by-point rundown of Apple’s January lawsuit, denying a total of 389 allegations.”

“Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale?”What we have here are two patent bullies fighting one another and it’s clear that only law firms are guaranteed to win, as usual (parasites can’t lose).

Qualcomm to Pay BlackBerry

Meanwhile, as emerged in the news last night [1, 2, 3], Qualcomm will need to shell out a lot of money. BlackBerry, which has itself become akin to a patent troll (both directly and indirectly), expects to receive nearly a billion dollars from Qualcomm. BlackBerry awarded $815 million in arbitration case against Qualcomm,” says a headline one reader sent to us about it. Might Qualcomm need to refund even greater amounts of money to other firms?

Qualcomm’s Abuses

Florian Müller published another article earlier today, having watched this case rather closely. “Qualcomm does not want European and Korean antitrust proceedings to impact its FTC litigation,” says the headline. Like Intel and Microsoft, Qualcomm has come under incredible scrutiny in several continents and the effect can be devastating to a company that depends so much on patents rather than actual products. To quote Müller:

Qualcomm, which would have us believe we couldn’t even play Pokémon GO if not for its wireless technologies, is fighting a global, multi-front war against regulators, industry players and consumers (who are piggybacking on the FTC case in Northern California).

On one of those fronts, BlackBerry just won an arbitration award over $815 million. Unfortunately, arbitration is opaque, so the legal basis for this is unclear, other than BlackBerry having claimed to have paid too much in license fees during an unspecified past period. The kind of wrongdoing here is totally unclear, and we also don’t know what an appeals court would have decided. Still, the $815 million award, which is final and binding, has made BlackBerry’s share price soar by 12%. For the Canadian company, it’s a huge amount of money. For Qualcomm, it’s also a very significant amount, but the bigger problem is that every independent finding of Qualcomm having overcharged someone makes it harder for Qualcomm to convince the courts of law and the court of public opinion that it’s just being bullied by the likes of Apple and Samsung and that all those antitrust enforcers have all just been misled by sore losers in the marketplace and by evil companies denying Qualcomm a fair compensation for its innovations.

This concern is real. A joint case management statement filed yesterday by the FTC and Qualcomm–”joint” in terms of being a single document despite virtually zero convergence on substantive questions–in the Northern District of California shows that Qualcomm is indeed concerned about how the various parallel proceedings could influence each other.

The above already mentions the news about BlackBerry, which is important. Is Qualcomm on the run from regulators?

Unfair and Unreasonable

“Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone).”So-called standard essential patents (SEPs) or RAND or FRAND are a subject we’ve covered here many times before. Last night IP Kat said that “It ha[d] been a busy couple of weeks for standard essential patents (SEPs)… and now we have the European Commission’s roadmap on SEPs.”

“FRAND is already in DSM,” Benjamin Henrion explained, “don´t know what is the status of this directive…”

Well, if SEPs like Qualcomm’s lose their legitimacy, the effects would be enormous and also impact software companies. In China, based on what IAM said earlier today, the subject of SEPs and patent trolls that wield them (like Ericsson in Europe) is being brought up and scrutinised. To quote:

We’ve seen a major patent pool introduce a new royalty rate structure aimed at enticing more developing-market implementers to get involved, the first foreign NPE officially enter China through a joint venture agreement, and Apple directly challenging the licensing terms Qualcomm agreed on with Chinese regulators. And, of course, the Beijing IP Court issued the country’s first SEP-based injunction against Sony.

Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone). Companies like Qualcomm offer far too little to society but more importantly, they set a dangerous precedent to be exploited by all sorts of other companies and harm productive companies.

03.14.17

WIPO is in the Business of Publishing Ads for Notorious Patent Aggressors (Facing Antitrust Charges) and Promoting Software Patents

Posted in America, Antitrust, Deception, Patents at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

WIPO magazine for software patents

Summary: For corporate lobbying purposes, namely the promotion of software patents, WIPO gives its own platform (and Web site) to an executive from a highly-abusive and most notorious patent bully, Qualcomm

PROMOTION or grooming of patent trolls is typically IAM territories. Dominion Harbor, for example, is a patent troll like those which IAM likes to whitewash (also connected to the world’s biggest troll), including as recently as yesterday. “Like many other licensing companies,” it said yesterday (“licensing company” is a euphemism for troll), “four-year-old Dominion Harbor has concluded a number of licence deals with big Chinese tech companies” (much like deals between IAM and patent trolls, which give money to IAM).

“Promotion or grooming of patent trolls is typically IAM territories.”It’s almost understandable that IAM Media accepted money from companies it covers. That’s just an ethical breach for a private company. But what happens when an agency like WIPO, which is supposed to be non-commercial, becomes a mouthpiece of patent bullies? We can expect that from the EPO, but not the USPTO (we cannot think of such an instance).

“Qualcomm is one of the biggest patent troll out there,” Benjamin Henrion alleged yesterday, and it is now being solicited by WIPO. “I am truly disgusted,” I told Henrion, “but not surprised.”

“They use the troll money to buy WIPO embedded ads,” one person told me, or so “it appears.”

Remember that WIPO is just about as abusive as the EPO (it’s nowhere near EPO levels of abuse in our view) and if it is ‘working’ for Qualcomm the patent bully (probably the biggest and most notorious such bully these days, having attracted several antitrust actions in multiple continents), what does that say about WIPO?

As a reminder, Qualcomm is using software patents (among other patents) against the competition and here is its former executive, in WIPO magazine, promoting software patents.

It “seems like IP is best defended with a paraphrase of why Free/Open software works,” somebody told me. “Qualcomm embedded ad?”

“It’s almost understandable that IAM Media accepted money from companies it covers. That’s just an ethical breach for a private company.”Well, this is what happens when “IP” people, not software developers, ask for software patents (without having actually practiced software development). Software patents proponents (obviously not software developers) are currently promoting this piece from ‘ex’ Qualcomm (in WIPO’s Web site, as HTML). I asked the author, “what computer programs did you develop? Why hijack voices of software developers for software patents (your $)?”

Henrion joked with her, “burn all software developers.”

He also wrote, “maybe she can precise if developers can benefit from freedom of expression as well?”

“It’s the old “you can’t earn money w/o patents” story, right?”

That’s what another person wrote before noting that the author “also argue[s] software replaces mechanics and electronics?”

“”If it’s free,” the saying goes, “then you are the product.” WIPO and its corporate partners probably just hope to convert this event into a lobbying opportunity, influencing those who choose to attend.”Sadly, we don’t have the time (or sources, never mind resources) to cover WIPO. IP Kat mentioned WIPO yesterday and it was basically a WIPO-related ‘ad’ which said: “There is still time to reserve a place at the New Zealand and Australia Roving Seminars on WIPO services, which will take place in Auckland on March 13, Wellington on March 15, Sydney on March 20, Melbourne on March 22, and Perth on March 24, 2017. There is no charge for registering or attending.”

“If it’s free,” the saying goes, “then you are the product.” WIPO and/or its corporate partners probably just hope to convert this event into a lobbying opportunity, influencing those who choose to attend. At the end, somebody pays the bills.

02.07.17

ITC and FTC Weigh in on Competition/Antitrust and the Patents-in-Standards Question

Posted in America, Antitrust, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Standard at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related to the FRAND/RAND debates but currently focused on hardware

No trespassing

Summary: Regulatory agencies in the US (International/Federal Trade Commission) grapple with anticompetitive aspects of patents

IN PREVIOUS years we wrote a great deal about the ITC. It’s the US-centric agency (not “International” as its name conveniently and misleadingly suggests) that helps embargo rivals from abroad; it does so with patents as a tool/blunt instrument.

The other day MIP wrote about what we can expect from the ITC in 2017, citing what it called the “first antitrust claim for 25 years.” To quote:

Highlights at the International Trade Commission in 2016 included the most Section 337 investigations since 2011, the first live hearing for a decade and the first antitrust claim for 25 years. Michael Loney asks ITC practitioners what trends they expect in 2017

What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse. Disdain for ITC ‘justice’ is something they have come to deserve. Remember all those antitrust cases (EU, Korea and more) against Intel, whose offences are plenty and include patent aggression (not to mention lobbying for software patents)? Well, based on this new report, Intel’s arch-rival “AMD filed a legal complaint against a number of companies accusing them of infringing its patents covering graphics processing technologies. The company requested the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC) to investigate the matter and, if the ITC finds in their favor, ban products based on chips that infringe on AMD’s intellectual property rights.”

“What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse.”ITC again. Guess in whose favour it is likely to rule? Even if many of these patents are applicable to or are required by industry standards…

Andy Updegrove spent a long time writing about anticompetitive aspects of standards with patents in them. He now says that a “Court Rules Standards Incorporated by Reference into Laws Need not be Free”. To quote: “When standards developed by the private sector become laws, should anyone be able to download a copy for free? At first blush, the answer seems too obvious to debate. But yesterday, a U.S. district court held otherwise, saying that the developer of a standard that has been “incorporated by reference” (IBR) into a law continues to have the right to enforce its copyright. It also confirmed the right to charge a reasonable fee for an IBR standard.”

“This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.”The subject is contentious and hotly-debated these days, in particular because of Qualcomm, which faces lawsuits, antitrust investigations and so on. MIP, noting the latest development in China (covered here two weeks ago), wrote last week that the “FTC charged Qualcomm with practicing unfair methods of competition under Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Meanwhile, Apple has sued the telecommunications company for $1 billion worth of rebated royalty fees that Apple says Qualcomm is withholding. Other trade commissions, such as Korea’s, have investigated and ruled against Qualcomm’s practices, and Apple has additionally sued the company in China.”

This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.

Are regulatory bodies like the FTC and ITC likely to recognise that for the world to advance and develop we need standards that are not usable by billionaire corporations alone? Are they competition facilitators or merely gatekeepers (wolves in sheep’s clothing)?

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