Qualcomm still one of the worst companies and most lethal patent aggressors out there…
Summary: OEMs that actually manufacture/sell phones rather than slap a patent fine on them need to (re)group around Apple and help ensure that the patent thicket is removed (or made a lot thinner)
“No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents,” Matt Levy wrote yesterday, having pushed for patent reform for a number of years, striving to improve patent quality at the USPTO and put an end to patent trolling (which would be an outcome of the former, as there’s a direct correlation). To quote Levy:
Why No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents
Qualcomm is a major opponent, perhaps the strongest opponent, of patent litigation reform. It’s becoming pretty obvious why. A few weeks ago, the Korean Fair Trade Commission went after Qualcomm for its anti-competitive licensing practices. This time, it’s the U.S. Federal Trade Commission going after Qualcomm for its licensing practices.
With the FTC complaint, we find a little bit more about Qualcomm’s practices. For example, we learn why requiring companies to take a separate patent license in order to purchase chips is abusive. Normally, the purchase of the chips would be enough without a license, because, under the first sale and patent exhaustion doctrines, a seller automatically gives a license to the purchaser for any of the seller’s relevant patents.
Qualcomm, however, forces its customers to take a separate patent license that entitles Qualcomm to a percentage of the price of the entire device that uses its chips. That is, a smartphone manufacturer has to pay Qualcomm a percentage of the price of the entire phone for each phone sold, in addition to paying for the chips. That’s essentially extortion.
On the other side of the debate we have trolls- and aggressors-friendly sites like IAM, which is actually funded by them. Watch this:
Barnett’s work is particularly timely given the spate of lawsuits that have recently been brought against Qualcomm by, among others, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Apple, over the chipmaker’s FRAND licensing. Those cases frame the argument around a dominant patent owner and technology supplier abusing its position to block out competitors and extract licences from manufacturers.
Qualcomm will no doubt counter with a robust defence; but, as Barnett’s research shows, like many licensors the company is on the wrong side of a set of theories that continue to shape much of the licensing narrative in the US.
So even those whom we expect to be very sympathetic to Qualcomm appear to have lost hope. Florian Müller has meanwhile told me that “one day that U.S. Apple v. Qualcomm case will go to the appeals court and Android OEMs will file pro-Apple amicus briefs” (it’s one rare situation where Apple and Android have a common cause and we believe that, inadvertently, Apple helps Android OEMs too in this case).
“So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further.”Going back to IAM (which seems to believe readers care patent applicants at SIPO, in spite of the appalling patent quality), here is a recent translation/interpretation of reports that are typically published in Mandarin alone. “According to media reports,” IAM says, “Apple lodged two separate complaints against Qualcomm with the Beijing IP Court. One alleges violations of China’s Antimonopoly Law, to the tune of 1 billion yuan ($145 million). The other is a challenge to the chipmaker’s licensing practices, which are described as “unfair and unreasonable”. The new move comes on the heels of a similar suit in the United States by Apple, that itself followed the FTC complaint covered in this blog last week. Qualcomm has dismissed Apple’s actions as a meritless effort to pay less for the technology it uses.”
So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further. This would, once again, be beneficial to Android OEMs, and not just Chinese ones. Remember that some of these Qualcomm patents are software patents.
“Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense.”At the same time Apple continues fighting back against Nokia, which became very aggressive just before Christmas. See these new reports [1, 2, 3, 4] about the ITC investigating Nokia’s patent claims against Apple. The ITC is not unbiased (typically favours US companies, as one might expect), so we suspect it will favour Apple (US) over Nokia (Finland). Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense. The same is true for BlackBerry.
In other news about Apple, the “Federal Circuit Invalidates Ameranth’s Menu Software Patents as Unpatentable Abstract Ideas,” so there is growing hope that Qualcomm’s and Nokia’s software patents too will be thrown aside, leaving only patents on physical things. To quote the latest report:
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. highlights the potential impact of characterization of recited features as conventional, routine, generic, or known in the field without further discussion of an innovation that goes beyond these features. Employing the two-step analytical framework of Mayo/Alice to evaluate subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) determinations in Covered Business Method (“CBM”) reviews regarding the patentability of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,384,850 (“’850 patent”), 6,871,325 (“’325 patent”), and 6,982,733 (“’733 patent”).
Remember that software patents die 70-80% of the time at the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and PTAB is widely supported/honoured by CAFC.
CAFC, however, will be the subject of our next post. █
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Summary: The US patent system is becoming ever more hostile towards patent trolls, owing in part to reforms introduced under Michelle Lee’s tenure, but people are still not certain that she will maintain her job and continue to fix the system
THE phones that are being made in east Asia are attracting many patent parasites and patent trolls, as we last noted yesterday. The same goes for tablets, wristbands, watches etc. albeit their overall worth (or market size) is relatively small. Qualcomm has been one among the top parasites in this area (harming both Android OEMs and Apple) and its behaviour is belatedly getting the attention of the FTC, not too long after it published a study about PAEs (a sort/type of patent trolls). The corporate media including Reuters is still writing about it:
Apple files $1 billion lawsuit against chip supplier Qualcomm
Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday, days after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit that accused the chip maker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over a key semiconductor in mobile phones.
Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for “modem” chips that help phones connect to wireless networks. The two companies together accounted for 40 percent of Qualcomm’s $23.5 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.
IAM’s slant on the news wants us to think that Trump is going to change it all, even though there are no indications of any imminent changes at the USPTO. The article starts as follows:
After an investigation lasting more than two years, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Qualcomm on Tuesday over what it alleges are the chipmaker’s anti-competitive practices in the supply of its baseband processors and the licensing of its patent portfolio. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California, is the latest example of Qualcomm’s licensing practices being placed under the microscope by regulators around the world.
The FTC’s case is framed around three main points: first, that Qualcomm adopted a “no licence, no chips” policy, whereby it refused to sell its chips to those companies that declined to take a licence to its patent portfolio; second, that the tech giant refused to license its competitors; and, finally, that Qualcomm put in place a deal with Apple in which the iPhone maker was precluded from sourcing baseband processors from competitors from 2011 to 2016.
IAM then veers off into seemingly irrelevant spin involving Trump. According to this short update, confusion over the vocation of the USPTO remains. To quote Patently-O:
Folks are having fun today with Federal Government web page conversions.
We still do not have confirmation that Michelle Lee will stay-on as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director. The newly updated COMMERCE.GOV website shows the position vacant while other positions remain filled.
It should all be figured out by Monday.
Lee’s roots in east Asia and Trump’s rhetoric against China (unlike Taiwan, which he uses as a sort of provocative weapon where he also has business investment) is something which we mentioned before in relation to this. As mentioned by many people before, Trump’s appointments are predominantly white, male, straight, and old (sometimes also corrupt). Someone like Rader seems like he fits the bill.
It will be interesting to see what happens this coming week and we shall watch it closely.
There are meanwhile some developments in the patent world that are worth noting. In Taiwan, for example, according to this new article, invalidity of a patent can have a ripple effect. “In patent infringement civil lawsuits,” it says, “the accused party cannot only claim invalidity of the patent with the civil court, but can also initiate a cancellation action with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) for the invalidation of the patent. Such a two-track mechanism may lead to a difference of opinion between the civil court and TIPO.”
A lot of US patents are being invalidated these days,
“Visually negligible” is another type of subject which is being explored. We covered it earlier this month.
Right now we are eager to see an unambiguous confirmation of Lee’s (re)appointment. █
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Image credit: Kudelski Group
Summary: The patent thicket which pervades everything that is used by billions of people, mobile technology in particular, can be traced back to a lot of non-practicing parasites (or patent trolls)
THE MOBILE market is one of the most trolls-infested markets these days. It has been like this for at least half a decade. There is a lot of money at stake and trolls are hoping to grab some of it without lifting a finger.
Never forget that Nokia was a top Linux contributor before Microsoft moved in for the kill and undermined everything Nokia was doing. Nowadays Nokia is acting more like a patent troll and the “Nokia” brand is just being licensed for some small — if not minuscule — level of income.
According to IAM, Nokia’s and Ericsson’s trolling affairs are now somewhat overlapping. To quote:
Huawei’s SEP licensing drive turns into clash of the telecom titans as Ericsson steps in with Nokia
Last week, NSN and T-Mobile – a US subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom – filed five petitions for inter partes review of multiple claims of four SEPs that Huawei asserted against the latter in East Texas in January 2016. The Chinese company claims that it filed these lawsuits after T-Mobile failed to respond satisfactorily to its requests to take a licence for telecoms equipment allegedly infringing on the patents, after first contacting it on the matter back in mid-2014.
In July last year, Huawei followed up its January infringement suits with another East Texas complaint against T-Mobile. This time, it requested that the court issue a declaratory judgment to the effect that it complied with its FRAND obligations in the licensing offers it had made to T-Mobile.
Another factor at play here is the global patent cross-licensing deal Ericsson signed with Huawei at around the same time that the Chinese company initiated its actions against T-Mobile.
Huawei is now the leading Android OEM and the leading OEM in the whole area in general. Samsung, in the mean time (the former leader), is cozying up to a deal with a troll. Only earlier today we wrote about the Kudelski Group, which is becoming a patent troll (it wasn’t historically) and is now being run by one, a thug from Intellectual Ventures. As IAM puts it (it’s portrayed as a partnership rather than a shake-down):
Led by senior vice president Joe Chernesky – a former Intellectual Ventures licensing executive – the Swiss company’s OpenTV subsidiary has engaged in an extensive patent licensing campaign, signing deals with the likes of AOL, Apple, Disney, Google, Netflix, Verizon and Yahoo over the past couple of years; while just this week, OpenTV filed another lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against NFL Enterprises, the commercial arm of American football’s National Football League, alleging patent infringement. In August last year, it signed a licensing agreement with RPX, in return for an upfront payment and a future transfer of patents from the defensive aggregator.
Kudelski has made a big name for itself in the patent and technology licensing space – and having a strong relationship with it could prove especially beneficial for Samsung, if and when it begins to mine more value from its own IP portfolio.
Notice the role of RPX in there.
Why are so many firms out there trying to make income out of patents rather than actual products? BlackBerry too has begun doing such stuff, resorting to litigation in Texas. Legislation alone can put a stop to it.
“Qualcomm is one of the worst patent troll[s],” Benjamin Henrion wrote about this news regarding Qualcomm:
Qualcomm’s Alleged “No License, No Chips” Policy Gets it into Trouble with the FTC
Qualcomm is the leader in baseband processors used for cellular communications in smartphones and other products, and one way the company has become a leader is by leveraging its patents, by either forcing customer to first “purchase a license to standard-essential patents, including elevated royalties that the customer must pay when using a competitor’s processor”, “refusing to license its cellular standard-essential patents to competitors”, or “entering exclusivity dealing arrangements” with companies such as Apple. At least that’s according to a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US that accuses Qualcomm of maintaining a monopoly and using unfair methods of competition, violating the company’s commitment to license on a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis .
Here is the latest from Florian Müller about this subject:
FTC sues Qualcomm over antitrust violation; Apple may buy baseband chipsets from other suppliers
I’m not surprised that Qualcomm’s stock is tanking. This antitrust action is huge. Basically, what the FTC is saying is that Qualcomm is leveraging its monopolies (some in the form of patent rights and others due to the market position of its baseband processors) in ways that enable it to charge several times more for its standard-essential wireless patents than market prices and that its “no license-no chips” policy threatens to force the last remaining competitors, such as Intel, out of the market.
In other, lesser-covered news, Apple has been sued again for patent infringement. “The complaint filed by Seatoun Media,” says a site for lawyers, “centers around a patent entitled “Point to point voice message processor, method and recording/playback device,” this patent describes a “voice message processor” which can send messages between users of the POS system.”
It’s becoming increasingly hard to compete in the mobile market without a heap of patents. What it means is higher price (artificially inflated) of phones. █
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Summary: An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility
SEVERAL days ago we became aware of “Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction against Samsung for infringing upon three software patents.”
This has been covered by quite a few Apple-leaning sites and mainstream news sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. This article by Dennis Crouch of Patently-O said:
In a one-paragraph order, the Federal Circuit has vacated its prior design patent damages determination in Samsung v. Apple following the Supreme Court’s 2016 reversal. The appeal is reinstated, and new briefs will now be filed. (Federal Circuit Docket No. 14-1335).
Apple’s design patents cover various ornamental designs applied to the iPhone and infringing Samsung Galaxy devices. Samsung was found to infringe because it “sells … [an] article of manufacture to which such design … has been applied.” 35 U.S.C. 289. The statute calls for for the infringer to be “liable to the owner [of the patent] to the extent of his total profits.” In its original decision, the Federal Circuit held that “total profits” referred to Samsung’s total profits on its infringing phones – i.e., total profits associated with the article of manufacture to which the design has been applied.
The US Supreme Court was recently mentioned in relation to other cases. It will take on patents of reasonably large companies. “Today,” Patently-O wrote last week, “the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two dueling petitions involving the Federal Circuit’s 2015 interpretation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009.”
This was also covered by Natalie Rahhal in New York. She said that the “dispute between Amgen and Sandoz over aspects of the so-called patent dance outlined in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was granted cert by the US Supreme Court” (SCOTUS).
“If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?”Writing from New York, again in relation to a SCOTUS, “Natalie Rahhal analyses the arguments of the amicus briefs filed in Lee v Tam, ahead of oral arguments in the case involving disparaging trade marks at the US Supreme Court on January 18,” according to this from MIP. This is not about patents, but the oral argument is imminent (2 days from now).
Looking outside the US for high-profile cases, there is also this case of Fujifilm v AbbVie (UK), which several sites have covered this month [1, 2] because “[g]eneric companies can seek court declarations that their own products are old or obvious in patent law terms under certain circumstances, the England & Wales Court of Appeal has ruled,” to quote MIP.
In Canada, the Supreme Court might soon hear this case where AstraZeneca is attempting to block generics. To quote MIP again: “The court on November heard arguments in AstraZeneca Canada v Apotex. The case involves AstraZeneca Canada’s patent for Nexium (Esomeprazole), a pharmaceutical product used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. AstraZeneca attempted to block Apotex from bringing a generic drug to the market. The Federal Court found that the promised utility of Nexium had not been adequately proven at the time of filing. AstaZeneca appealed to the Supreme Court.”
“2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform.”Suffice to say, we support generic medicine. If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?
2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform. His policies and appointments tend to serve the richest people, not ill and poor people. █
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Nokia is now a de facto patent troll that just licenses the brand
Summary: Nokia’s saber-rattling (and now lawsuits) against Apple are a worrying sign of what’s to come, impacting Android OEMs as well as Apple, which is why the post-Microsoft Nokia is dangerous
TAKING advantage of USPTO-granted patents (for the most part), Nokia started a patent war against Apple just before Christmas [1, 2] and many journalists/pundits were already on holiday, so they did not have a chance to comment. Maybe this was Nokia’s intention as the timing of the press release was at the very least suspicious. Few were even around to cover the followup action, for instance, this complaint that got covered by Matthias Verbergt who said “Nokia Corp. said Thursday [two days before Christmas] it has filed additional complaints against Apple Inc., alleging the iPhone maker has infringed 40 of its patents.” Florian Müller said “Nokia suing Apple over 40 patents in 11 countries” (yes eleven!).
“Nokia is a European company, so there is a concern here that US culture of litigation is spreading to Europe already (the UPC would make a trolling culture even more prevalent if it ever became a reality).”When Nokia/trolls pick on the industry of mobile phones everybody loses, not just Apple. Android too tends to be affected, sooner if not later (than Apple). Nokia is a European company, so there is a concern here that US culture of litigation is spreading to Europe already (the UPC would make a trolling culture even more prevalent if it ever became a reality).
Florian Müller told me that “during the Apple v. Nokia antitrust lawsuit in California” some interesting information is likely to surface. “With Conversant,” he explained, “formerly known as Mosaid, being one of the defendants, I guess MSFT’s involvement will be at issue and MSFT witnesses will be deposed.”
As a reminder, MOSAID received patents from Nokia, at Microsoft’s instruction. This may become very relevant a piece of evidence at a trial/antitrust probe.
“Android too tends to be affected, sooner if not later (than Apple).”“Nokia Is Playing With Fire With Its Patent Infringement Case Against Apple,” one report explained, and another said “Apple and Nokia Could Each Score Victories as Their Patent Battle Unfolds” (usually only the lawyers win in such scenarios). Android sites rightly treat this as Android news because if Apple loses, then expect Nokia to go after Android OEMs too. The latest developments were barely (if at all) covered by the media, probably just as Nokia had hoped. There are now several articles about this in English alone, but if it didn’t happen shortly before Christmas, we’d expect hundreds of reports if not thousands. Matt Levy wrote a poem about this and today (Boxing Day) Müller said that “Nokia’s litigation tactics and privateering ways are, without a doubt, vexatious. So I couldn’t disagree with Apple if it made the case that it’s just not reasonably acceptable for Apple to have to do “business as usual” with a Nokia subsidiary under the present circumstances.”
“Apple should invoke Alice,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote, “especially for H264 compression algorithms where captive patent courts still allows them…”
Henrion, a Belgian, is well aware of Nokia’s history of patent aggression — a subject we have been covering here since 2007. Take note of this news from Belgium that speaks of “85% tax deduction for qualifying income from patents, copyrighted software, breeders rights, orphan drugs and data or market exclusivity” (sounds like Patent Boxes, but not exactly the same).
“Henrion, a Belgian, is well aware of Nokia’s history of patent aggression — a subject we have been covering here since 2007.”Apple should definitely move to invalidate Nokia’s patents. All patents (there are 40 of them) should be susceptible to criticism, as examiners are not perfect and there are no flawless examinations. Incidentally, Patently-O has just written about “The “Right” to Challenge a Patent” in an antitrust context. “In his recent article,” it says, “Antitrust Economist (and lawyer) Erik Hovenkamp argues that the “right to challenge a patent” should also be an important consideration in antitrust analysis. Hovenkamp defines these “challenge rights” as “the (statutory) rights of third parties to challenge patents as invalid or uninfringed.” Antitrust comes into play when a license or settlement agreement includes challenge restraints that would contractually prevent the exercise of the challenge rights.”
Sounds very much applicable to the case above and as we have said from the very start, we hope that Apple will demolish those patents of Nokia, which might otherwise be asserted against Android OEMs (if this hasn’t been done in out-of-court settlements already). █
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As we correctly predicted way back in 2011…
Nokia suing everyone… except Microsoft.
Summary: Few days before Christmas Nokia decides that the backlash from the media would be minimal enough to finally show its true colours and rear its ugly head again, putting a tax on phones that actually sell (unlike Nokia’s)
VERY LATE LAST NIGHT (as late as 2 AM) we wrote about a story which Nokia probably hoped the media would not notice/cover all that much (hence the timing/date in the year). Nokia is a patent troll now. “Meanwhile,” as this article puts it, “Apple has accused Nokia of using the ‘tactics of a patent troll’.” It’s not just about Apple as Nokia will go after Android OEMs next (if it hasn’t already).
It’s the ‘Microsoft effect’. The company likes turning other (usually vulnerable) companies into a pile of patents, weaponised against Microsoft’s rivals. There are many examples of that which we’ve covered here over the years.
“It’s the ‘Microsoft effect’. The company likes turning other (usually vulnerable) companies into a pile of patents, weaponised against Microsoft’s rivals.”We have already found about a hundred reports about this in English, in spite of Christmas absence of many reporters (even from large British publishers, US publishers and several people at IDG [1, 2]). The Finnish English-speaking media touches the subject and Wall Street media puts it behind a paywall. Tripp Mickle and Matthias Verbergt say that “Apple Inc. and Nokia Corp. filed competing lawsuits over intellectual property used in the iPhone and other Apple products.”
Worth seeing in this case is what Apple finds out about the network of trolls (typically shrouded in secrecy). With evidence admissible by the courts about the patent trolls of Nokia and Microsoft we can improve our information here (growingly extensive and occasionally praised by people who come here in order to understand cryptic trolls.). Florian Müller says “First court hearings in the new Nokia v. Apple dispute will most probably take place in Munich in a few months. I’ll probably go and listen.”
“We believe that the date of the press release was designed (or intended) to dodge negative press coverage.”He also quotes Apple’s spokesperson as saying that Nokia “is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple…”
He is “not mincing words anymore,” Müller adds, and someone from Finland agrees with him. Finns do not blindly support Nokia. We speak to some Finns who are extremely upset at Nokia. It’s a national embarrassment to some.
As for IAM, it thinks it’s favourable to have patent lawsuit from a troll-like Nokia, but it lacks a vital
disclosure; Nokia’s patent troll MOSAID (now called “Conversant”) has paid IAM, which recently did a lot of puff pieces for it. Maybe that’s just IAM’s business model…
IAM says “Apple is against patent owners doing what they want with their patents to maximise their value.”
Whose value? And to whose advantage? And at whose expense?
“Not sure how that helps R&D,” IAM says, but Benjamin Henrion has already responded to them by saying “that helps P&L [patents and litigation], not R&D.”
We believe that the date of the press release was designed (or intended) to dodge negative press coverage. █
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When all else fails, throw patents at the competition (through trolls so as to avert counteraction)?
Image from BusinessKorea
Summary: With billions of dollars at stake (maybe over a trillion in the long run), the attempt to claw revenue using patents rather than actual sales has become complicated because of plurality of intermediaries, which Apple is trying to tackle with a new antitrust complaint
“In a major antitrust lawsuit Apple charged that Acacia is illegally breaking terms of patents acquired from Nokia,” according to The Street. This is pretty major news and definitely something that warrants a 2 AM article. Florian Müller has already produced a long blog post about it, accompanied by or coupled with the relevant documents.
“Readers can find details like a detailed history in our Wiki page about Acacia, including the hiring (by Acacia) of people from Microsoft and this troll’s repeated attacks on GNU/Linux.”As a reminder to our readers, Acacia is a Microsoft-connected troll. Readers can find details like a detailed history in our Wiki page about Acacia, including the hiring (by Acacia) of people from Microsoft and this troll’s repeated attacks on GNU/Linux.
“For a long time,” Müller wrote today, “I had hoped someone would finally do this. Last year I called out Nokia and others on their privateering ways, and it turned out that Nokia had industrialized the concept of privateering to a far greater extent than anyone else. My list of PAEs fed by Nokia contained all of the defendants in Apple’s antitrust suit–Acacia and Conversant (technically, Apple is also suing particular subsidiaries of those)–and more. That post prompted attempts by Ericsson and Nokia to explain away their privateering ways.”
Nokia‘s patents have also been passed to another anti-Linux/anti-Google troll called MOSAID (renamed “Conversant” since). These were, for a fact, passed at Microsoft’s instructions, as reported in the mainstream media at the time. There’s more on that in the Korean media. When it comes to patents, Nokia is still enslaved by or subservient to Microsoft.
“What does the future of dying mobile giants have in store then?”The full story isn’t just Apple hitting back at Nokia. “Breaking news,” Müller wrote later, “Nokia sues Apple in US and Europe over alleged patent infringement […] Venues: Eastern District of Texas, three German courts: Düsseldorf Mannheim Munich…”
Europe is a growing and increasingly attractive hub for patent parasites already, I’ve told Müller (who probably agreed). Germany and sometimes the UK (London) are favoured among those parasites (see Ericsson's troll choosing London for legal attacks — quite unprecedented a move for such an entity). “For the troll that Nokia is now,” Müller noted, “suing Apple in the ED of Texas is very appropriate. […] When Nokia was still making mobile devices, it had a predilection for the District of Delaware. Now: Eastern District of Texas. Times change…”
I told him that BlackBerry does the same thing now, having lost the market (to which Müller nodded with a retweet). We wrote about this earlier this week and earlier this year.
What does the future of dying mobile giants have in store then? Passage to trolls (the PAE type) that will tax everyone, everywhere? “Something big always seems to happen at Christmas in the patent market,” IAM wrote. “Remember the RPX Rockstar patents purchase a couple of years ago?”
Remember that IAM is partly funded by MOSAID/Conversant, i.e. part of the same ‘gang’. As for Rockstar, we wrote quite a few articles about it, e.g. [1, 2]. It’s like a front for Microsoft (Rockstar Consortium is a patent troll owned by Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony). As for RPX, it’s also a patent troll, with Microsoft having joined it 6 years ago.
“My list of PAEs fed by Nokia contained all of the defendants in Apple’s antitrust suit–Acacia and Conversant (technically, Apple is also suing particular subsidiaries of those)–and more.”
–Florian MüllerNina Milanov, an occasional EPO sceptic, told Müller, “I hope Apple sees it through. Every time you settle, to some extent the troll has won.”
“Last time Nokia sued Apple in Germany,” Müller responded, “it was extremely lucky. Key patents have expired. Will be more interesting this time around.”
If Apple gets to the bottom of all these satellite proxies that are patent trolls, it will be a good service not just to Apple but also to Android/Linux. iOS and Android command the market and all that the losers can do right now is attempt to tax those two. Even Oracle is trying to accomplish that. █
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Summary: A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS
Excellent news came through AP several hours ago: “Supreme Court throws out $399 million judgment against Samsung in company’s patent dispute with Apple over iPhone design.”
There will certainly be plenty of coverage about this, including quite a lot of rants from Apple advocacy sites. Apple lost a design/UI patent case. It has actually lost quite a few cases against Samsung by now. Many other patents in this domain will be generally lost too, by means of precedence (how many patents out there are no longer valid?).
Here is what Professor Crouch, who followed this case pretty closely, had to say:
In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor, the Supreme Court has reversed the Federal Circuit in this important design patent damages case. Although the case offers hope for Samsung and others adjudged of infringing design patents, it offers no clarity as to the rule of law.
There is also this bit of news that’s covered a week late and says:
Apple v. Ameranth: Federal Circuit Partially Reverses PTAB and Finds All Claims for Electronic Menus Unpatentable
On November 29, 2016, in Apple Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. 15-1703, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) findings of unpatentable independent claims in a Covered Business Method (CBM) review and reversed findings of patentable dependent claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101. On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with Apple that there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that dependent claims 3, 6-9, 11 and 13-16 of Ameranth’s U.S. Patent No. 6,982,733 (‘733 patent) were unpatentable as describing insignificant post-solution activities. Despite Ameranth arguing for a substantial evidence standard of review, the Federal Circuit applied a de novo review standard in its reversal of the PTAB’s decision.
Things don’t look too promising for Apple in this CAFC case and another CAFC case, Ameranth, Inc. v. Agilsys, Inc., now gets covered in another site (it’s about PTAB). █
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