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12.10.17

Patents Are Becoming a Welfare System for the Rich and Powerful

Posted in Patents, RAND, Standard at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: The SEP/Patent Trolls’ Lobby Insults the Victims, Calling Them “Free Riders”

Welfare of dogs

Summary: A culture of litigation and more recently the patenting of broad industry standards may mean that multi-billion dollar corporations are cashing in without lifting a finger

THE gross saturation of patents in the United States used to work in favour of patent law firms, at the expense of firms which actually produce things.

A few days ago we learned about yet another large sum (nearly 0.1 billion dollars) being passed based on a patent dispute/lawsuit that alleges “lost profits” (as if it’s corporate welfare, wherein you declare an entitlement for profits). We wrote about that subject a few weeks ago. “The lawsuit is related to WesternGeco’s patents on marine seismic surveys,” Patently-O wrote. “Adjudged infringer ION manufactures components of the system in the US, for assembly and use “on the high seas.” A jury found liability under 271(f) – exporting components of a patented invention for assembly abroad. The jury also awarded the patentee $12.5 million in reasonable royalties in addition to $93.4 million in lost profits based upon specific competitive contracts lost.”

“Since when have patents become merely a tool of ‘wholesale’ wealth passage?”So that’s even over 0.1 billion dollars (all in all). Based on potential alone, or the mere claim of potential.

Since when have patents become merely a tool of ‘wholesale’ wealth passage? Patents were not originally envisioned as such and this does not contribute to innovation, it just makes already-rich people even richer.

Now let’s look at so-called F/RAND, which ought not exist in the first place. It’s the basic idea that even industry standards are ‘owned’ in the patents sense, and we’re supposed to think that’s “fair”, “reasonable” and “non-discriminatory”. In reality, it is the opposite of all these things. It’s an unjust tax which empowers monopolies.

“It’s the basic idea that even industry standards are ‘owned’ in the patents sense, and we’re supposed to think that’s “fair”, “reasonable” and “non-discriminatory”.”A short while ago (in academic terms) Colleen Chien mentioned her new paper which can be found here. “Patent litigation is down but transactions are up,” she said. “I discuss in my new paper, “Software Patents as Currency, Not Tax on Innovation” @BerkeleyTechLJ”

Here is her abstract: “Software innovation is transforming the U.S. economy. Yet our understanding of how patents and patent transactions support this innovation is limited by a lack of public information about patent licenses and sales. Claims about the patent marketplace, for example, extolling the virtues of intermediaries like non–practicing entities, or characterizing software patent licenses as a tax on innovation tend not to be grounded in empirical evidence. This Article brings much–needed data to the debate by analyzing transactional patent data from multiple sources and reporting several novel findings. First, this study finds that, despite reductions in the enforceability of software parents and levels of patent litigation, the market for software patents has remained remarkably robust, and actually grown in the number of transacted assets. The strength of this demand appears to be driven by the defensive—not only offensive—value of software patents, the importance of software–driven business models, and bargain shopping in the acquisition of patents. Second, this Article explores the extent to which software patent transfers support the transfer of technology as opposed to supporting just the transfer of liability, or freedom from suit, with mixed results. This study finds that the majority of material software licenses reported by public companies to the SEC from 2000–2015 (N=245) support true technology transfer. However, in recent years, large numbers of software patents apparently have also been sold to avoid litigation or to provide general operating freedom, rather than to access specific technologies. Software patents transferred between public companies from 2012 and 2015 were two to three times more likely to go from an older company to a younger company, and from a higher revenue to a lower revenue public company. These findings underscore the enduring importance of software patents in supporting both technology transfer and freedom to operate. Despite the prevalence of NPEs, most patents are not bought for assertion, but to support these critical innovation functions. As such, the data support the characterization of software patents as a currency of—rather than a tax on—innovation.”

It is certainly good news that litigation is decreasing, but software patents ought not be viewed as patent-eligible anymore. A lot of these transactions Chien speaks of are akin to FRAND and it’s a form of loophole, just like the so-called ‘NPEs’ (trolls) she alludes to.

Looking at sites of the patent microcosm rather than academic papers, one finds another new lawsuit. Here is what IAM said:

Sprint, the US’s fourth largest mobile company, has launched a patent infringement lawsuit against Charter alleging that the cable TV giant infringes on 11 patents relating to voice over packet (VoP) technology.

The case was filed in Delaware district court earlier this month and marks the latest attempt by Sprint, which is owned by Japanese tech giant Softbank, to monetise its patent portfolio. As well as the suit against Charter, Sprint also filed a case using the same patents against another cable business, Mediacom Communications.

Unfortunately, VoP is — quite arguably — about software, just like VoIP (Internet Protocol, which deals with packets too). We hope that Charter will fight back and attempt to invalidate these patents (invalidating a dozen won’t be cheap and definitely not fast).

“We hope that Charter will fight back and attempt to invalidate these patents (invalidating a dozen won’t be cheap and definitely not fast).”The patent microcosm shares IAM’s blood-lust. It wants a lot of litigation or taxation as it gets a share of the loor. See this for example. Just about everything that’s bad for society Bristows will love. It is celebrating with patent trolls and maximlaists again (SPCs). It’s also lobbying for software patents, FRAND, SEP, and the UPC, which this guy too is promoting, along with the rest of that toxic bundle. “Isn’t it funny,” he asked, “that the free market loving Anglo-Saxons want judges to determine the #FRAND rate while the Germans (of all people) want the judge to provide boundaries and let the market set the #FRAND #royalty for an #SEP #Patent”

“A lot of that tax pertains mostly if not entirely to software patents.”The term “royalty” is a euphemism for tax. This new article by William New speaks of the 5G tax, which we wrote about earlier this winter.

The bottom line is, patents are becoming merely a tax in many areas. Sure, litigation is on the decline in the US (unlike — say — in China or Germany), but that in itself does not guarantee end of injustices. A lot of that tax pertains mostly if not entirely to software patents.

11.29.17

IAM Celebrates (With the Patent Cartel) a System of Unjust Monopolisation of Industry Standards Through Unethical Patent Thickets

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents, RAND, Standard at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many of these are software patents

ITU Microsoft

Summary: Once again, quite frankly as usual, lobbying by large corporations pays off and companies that are not multi-billion dollar entities will suffer for they cannot participate in the market (anticompetitive patent thickets)

THE policy regarding patents in China has made Asia increasingly friendly to patent trolls. Korean and Japanese companies, for example, are being dragged into Chinese courts (much of their production was outsourced to factories in mainland China).

Days ago we saw IAM saying that “NPEs [patent trolls] armed with former [Chinese] Huawei and [European patent troll] Sisvel patents attack [Korean] Samsung in China, in possible privateering campaigns”. Well, “privateering” is putting it far too politely. The word they’re looking for is trolling. The patent arsenal from Europe now travels to China, the most fertile ground for patent trolls, in order to attack Samsung, one of the world’s biggest technology companies. “An article published in China,” IAM writes, “has turned up two previously unreported patent infringement suits against Samsung in the country’s courts, both filed this year. In one case, an apparent Chinese NPE is asserting a patent formerly owned by Huawei against the South Korean company. In the other, a Texas NPE is suing Samsung with a former Sisvel patent. Taken together, the cases indicate that there may be much more NPE activity – foreign and domestic – than meets the eye in China.”

Further down SIPO is mentioned. To quote: “Li further reports that Samsung challenged both patents before SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board (PRB), which evidently upheld the Dunjun patent, while invalidating the Dual Sim patent. Both decisions can, of course, be appealed.”

What we are seeing here is actualisation of our predictions. Does China want to be known for patent trolls or for manufacturing (or both)?

Meanwhile, the Japanese government, according to this IAM blog post, recognises the problem with SEPs (standard-essential patents), not just with trolls. One should refrain from using the terms FRAND or SEP. They basically masquerade or conceal an anticompetitive injustice that’s hinged on patents. Here is what IAM wrote:

The ADR scheme was also described by the government as a “licensing award system for SEPs”. In short, it proposed that when two parties could not agree on an SEP licence agreement, the prospective licensee would be able to request mediation by the JPO, which would determine a FRAND royalty rate in a mandatory process, “with due care of not unfairly haring the interests of the patent holders”. Major global rights owners raised numerous objections, branding it as a form of compulsory licensing.

This has become a hot topic because companies like Qualcomm, which IAM again glorified a few days ago, want to create industry standards everyone must pay Qualcomm to merely implement. There are many software patents in the mix, even though such patents are no longer potent anywhere but China.

As Benjamin Henrion stated earlier today: “After the glyphosate, another vistory of (patent) lobbyists is to remove the “licence for all” from the Commission FRAND paper, and to insult Open Source licensing…”

The context to all this was a stream of IAM tweets that said: “Commission Communication on SEP licensing has now been published. On a first, skim, read it looks like SEP owners have got most of what they could have reasonably hoped for [] There doesn’t seem to be any prescriptions about what kind of licensing approach should be followed – ie no mention of the “license for all” regime that implementers were calling for. This is crucial. Looks like SEP owners have got their way. [] If detailed reading of the SEP licensing Communication confirms the initial impression, there has bene a big turnaround in the Commisison [sic] over th elast two weeks. SEP owners will be celebrating.”

IAM’s chief, Joff Wild, later wrote this blog post about it (updated throughout the evening). It is very disappointing that the European Commission seems to be in bed with the patent cartel/thickets, basically the likes of Qualcomm which it’s supposed to investigate. To quote Wild:

The European Commission’s long-awaited Communication on the licensing of standards essential patents was finally published this morning and, on an initial read, it looks like SEP owners have a fair amount to be pleased about – especially given how things were looking a couple of weeks back, when it seemed as if extensive lobbying from the implementer side was about to bear fruit. A subsequent delay in agreeing the final text of the Communication provided a hint that implementers might not get all they were after and today’s publication seemingly confirms that.

[...]

My guess is that SEP owners are going to be feeling a great deal of relief today. The Commission has acknowledged that while the rapid and efficient diffusion of technology at the lowest cost possible is vital, those who do the innovating need to be incentivised to carry on – and that means they have to feel they will receive adequate reward for the investments they make.

Is this any worse than the Commission turning a blind eye to EPO abuses?

Writing behind a paywall IP Watch has covered this as well (under the headline “European Commission Announces Guidance On Copyright Enforcement, SEP Licensing”).

To quote:

The European Commission today announced plans to ratchet up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and to introduce more clarity in licensing standard-essential patents (SEPs). The first involves guidance on the 2004 EU directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED); the second recommendations for making the relationship between patent owners and technology users more “balanced and efficient.”

The likes of Qualcomm certainly got their way here; interesting timing given the immense scrutiny this company comes under. Earlier today we learned that Apple has just countersued Qualcomm for patent infringement [1, 2, 3], further escalating a long battle against the SEP cartel set up by Qualcomn. It is very disappointing to see that in addition to the constant deception from sites like IAM we have public officials who play along with patent cartels and protectionism. They really ought to know better. Corporate lobbyists got their way again. IAM gave them a platform (we covered that).

10.11.17

The FRAND Lobby is Trying to Sneak Software Patents Into Countries That Banned Them

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

India IAM lobbyingSummary: The patent lobby is attempting to find new ways to impose patents on software (with euphemisms like “reasonable”, “non-discriminatory” or “fair”), even in places that explicitly disallow these

THE Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Business Software Alliance (BSA) and other front groups of Microsoft have long lobbied for FRAND. It’s one way for Microsoft to systematically impede/suppress/discourage if not altogether ban/obstruct Free/Open Source software. Cablegate has a lot of evidence of it.

Any FRAND Trojan horse is basically an attempt to put a cost on things that are otherwise free, such as software. When everyone is free to implement something, in the form of Free/Open Source software, the only barrier can be software patents.

India, as is widely known, is not allowing software patents, yet IAM keeps shaming and bullying India to change that policy. IAM is basically like a lobbying group masquerading as a publication. Yesterday Jacob Schindler wrote about it again, in support of FRAND. To quote the final portion:

Over at SpicyIP, Rajiv Choudhry discusses the new FRAND initiative in the context of what he terms an “ongoing turf war” between the TRAI and the CCI. In the patent space, the latter has become a fixture thanks to its intervention in two SEP disputes involving Ericsson. The CCI launched investigations of the Swedish company based on complaints by both Intex and Micromax, both of which Ericsson sued for patent infringement. In March 2016, the Delhi High Court ruled that those probes could continue, suggesting that the CCI is going to have jurisdiction to look into such SEP matters going forward. If anything comes of this TRAI consultation, there could be a second SEP watchdog in India that patent owners will need to pay close attention to.

As a reminder, earlier this year IAM did its usual lobbying in India, e.g.:

Also yesterday there was an observation about this new report regarding FRAND in relation to Qualcomm. “FRAND, ACT and Mingorance, sounds like a nightmare for freedom,” Benjamin Henrion remarked on this report. To quote a portion:

Qualcomm’s patent fee model is based on the widely used so-called “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) licensing model. The European Commission, however, has yet to make a final decision on which technology patent fee model it favours.

Look who the author is quoting. It’s appalling. A Trojan horse from IP Europe and more Microsoft-connected front groups. Recall what we wrote about it on Sunday and see this new tweet which says “Paris hosts standard body organisations’ and IP Europe’s initiative for a code of conduct in IoT and 5G licensing.”

They are trying to stick software patents tax using buzzwords like IoT and 5G.

Also regarding Qualcomm, this new blog post deals with the European Commission’s take:

There have been strong indications that the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) has serious concerns about the potentially anti-competitive effects of Qualcomm’s proposed acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. By now, there can be no doubt about that: the Commission’s website states that Qualcomm submitted commitments four days ago. No one offers commitments if unconditional clearance is achievable.

Typically, companies discuss such proposed commitments with the Commission beforehand. If the Commission believes the commitments might be useful, it puts them to a market test, giving stakeholders an opportunity to comment. Here, there is no official confirmation–just rumors–of an ongoing market test.

It’s important to be aware that the fight for software patents is taking new forms; they often disguise it as “FRAND” (every now and then they say “RAND”) and software patents are being framed as “AI” or “cloud” or “IoT” or whatever (at the EPO too).

10.08.17

Microsoft Lobbying, the EPO, and Software Patents Disguised as ‘Internet of Things’

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps (Microsoft at the time)

ITU Microsoft

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to act like a vassal of patent aggressors, Microsoft carries on pretending that it’s no longer attacking Free software, and evidence shows that patent policy is being perturbed by lobbyists connected to Microsoft

TECHRIGHTS published many thousands of articles about Microsoft, particularly regarding the company’s use (or misuse) of patents. It’s no secret that Microsoft front groups and other nefarious lobbies want to make Free/Open Source software more difficult (if not impossible) in Europe. Microsoft lobbies if not bribes for the removal of GNU/Linux not just from Munich but also anywhere else around Germany and Europe as a whole. We wrote many articles about it over the years. We gave many concrete examples. We also published some secret E-mails to that effect. The evidence is there, but corporate media is rarely interested in such stories; there’s a PR campaign going on now. It’s more profitable. Nasty spin is what brings income. Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing. “Microsoft loves Linux” is one of the latest incredible lies*.

“Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing.”Recently we saw further evidence that Apache had been compromised. Microsoft paid the ASF too much and even put its own ‘moles’ (or full-time staff) in leadership positions at the ASF. And let’s not even mention the LF and OSI. That may be a subject for another day. Notice how Microsoft never joined OIN and never promised not to sue/threaten with patents (the same promise needs to be made for Microsoft-connected patent trolls). In 2017, unfortunately, Microsoft continues to operate like the Mafia; it pays those who may otherwise speak out (or simply ‘eliminates’ them) while patent blackmail goes on covertly.

The other day we found out that the BSA-connected firm of Bill Gates’ father, a firm which is also connected to Microsoft lobbyists, is targeting the EPO now. As a reminder, many employees of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) moved back and forth (from and to this firm). We wrote a lot about that around 2007. This article came out a few days ago:

K&L Gates has launched a European Patent Office (EPO) practice.

The new practice, combined with K&L Gates’ network of intellectual procurement, portfolio management, and litigation lawyers and patent attorneys makes it the only fully integrated global law firm with full-service patent capabilities in the US, Australia, and Europe, it claims.

“Some time back, we embarked on the mission of bolstering our global patent prosecution capabilities to include an EPO practice in order to better provide our clients with a truly global IP solution,” said Robert M. Barrett, a partner at the firm’s Chicago office.

Remember that a lot of the staff is connected to the BSA, which we’ll come to in a moment.

As we have been pointing out for a number of months, the “IoT” buzzword is nowadays being used as a loophole for software patents. Another such word is “AI”, which only yesterday Watchtroll tried to frame as patentable (in spite of Alice). A few days ago we saw a new press release that said “AI Technology Patents” in the headline. “AI” is just a codeword for software patents which are neither allowed nor enforceable in the US anymore. “Procurement Software Company Xeeva Announces Receipt of Multiple AI Technology Patents,” it said, but these are simply software patents ‘dressed up’ as something scientific or smart. As we shall show in a moment, Microsoft uses such buzzwords more and more.

“What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword.”As for the EPO, internal documents exposed that it had offered Microsoft an inherently-discriminatory fast lane. And yet, the "SMEs" lies continue to be trotted out. Here’s one from Friday, followed by retweeting of others who do the same. This is all based on a big lie from the EPO — the pure nonsense which is EPO working for SMEs rather than to their impediment/detriment. See “Using intellectual property to help large multinationals harness their innovative edge” — that’s the headline and tone of an article published by IAM some days ago. We’re expected to believe that anyone other than these “large multinationals” (or patent trolls) would benefit. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Now comes the interesting part. Last month we wrote quite a bit about IP Europe and the EPO. Days ago someone told us about “European Standardization” with “Francisco MINGORANCE (IP Europe)” in it. It’s about so-called ‘IoT’ and there’s a “Kick-off meeting CEN-CENELEC/WS IoT SEP licensing” (“SEP licensing” is standard-essential patent tax).

So the lobbyists are once again killing everything that is sane!

Mingorance isn’t new to us. We wrote about him when he worked for the BSA and more recently in relation to the UPC and EPO [1, 2]. They’re all pretty close.

What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword. They link to a patent maximalists’ site and tweet: “#Standards bodies, global tech developers & users to create a European Vision for #SEP licensing for #IoT and #5G”

“Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee.”As the President of the FFII interpreted it, “5G and IOT standards to be dominated by trolls, making free software impossible [] Today swpat [software patents] lobbyists meetup to exclude free software from 5G and IOT https://is.gd/eaT8xS”

Incidentally, only days ago IAM published this article titled “Monetising patented wireless technologies”, composed by Marc Pépin from TechPats, Ottawa, Canada. About a week ago we also heard from inside sources about a war on Free software in wireless technology. They’re understandably concerned when software patent are being painted “IoT” or G*” to impose a tax on everything, rendering Free software unsuitable for purpose.

It was pointed out to us that Apache played a role in it, too. Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee. As it turns out, Jim Jagielski became part of the problem and he recently sent a shout-out to Sam Ramji and congratulated Microsoft. It would not be a big deal if he hadn’t also been “very big” on Inner Source, and gave 3 talks at this secret event, InnerSource Commons Fall Summit 2017.

“As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.”Then there’s this event, Second Joint ITU-NGMN Alliance Workshop on Open Source and Standards for 5G. Hosted by Microsoft! This is what entryism looks like. This is the second workshop and the first one was hosted by Qualcomm.

“Software patents are the key issue there,” we got told, and “the mobile industry wants to define FOSS as “access to the code” and normalise separate patent agreements, and wants regulators to endorse that position.”

As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.
_____
* The PR campaign is so strong and so broad that one gets nothing but scorn (like “tinfoil hat”) for being sane and rational about what Microsoft is truly up to.

05.08.17

Death of ‘IP’ Media: Front Groups of Microsoft Described as “Representing SME Developers” by Bristows

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 3:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European Digital SME AllianceSame people who lied to us about UPC being beneficial to SMEs (the very opposite is true)

Summary: Fake groups (AstroTurfing) whose purpose is to hijack and misrepresent the views of one’s competition (e.g. SMEs) are being echoed if not amplified by Annsley Merelle Ward at IP Kat this morning, distracting from real representatives of SMEs (like the European Digital SME Alliance)

THE state of IP Kat has gotten so bad that it’s not even amusing. Now that there is very major news at the EPO, namely the withdrawal of Battistelli’s ‘boss’ [1, 2], nothing at all is being said (nor will be said).

Here is a new comment about it:

Seems like the sands are shifting at the top of the Administrative Council …

Translations and Speculations About Jesper Kongstad’s Planned Departure From the EPO

And what curious timing !

Just before the kick-off of the next Presidential election campaign …

All we need now are some hacked e-mails or maybe a USB stick with compromising data …

What a shame that the IPKat no longer reports on these exciting developments in the land of EPOnia …

Well, the Bristows-run IP Kat has been busy marketing the UPC, patent trolls in the UK, FRAND and so on. In other words, it stands for pretty much everything that harms British companies, which already complain about this. Microsoft has long exploited FRAND (while lobbying for it) as a tool for combating adoption of Free/Libre open source software. That’s no secret. It’s a widely-known fact and we reported/wrote about it many times around 2008-2010. We also published leaked material related to this (demonstrating how Microsoft front groups had been altering laws to promote FRAND behind closed doors).

“…the Bristows-run IP Kat has been busy marketing the UPC, patent trolls in the UK, FRAND and so on.”This morning, to make things even worse, Annsley Merelle Ward took it a step further by spreading a lie about Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Microsoft’s villainous proxy for a couple of decades. She was saying it’s “pro-FRAND tech trade association representing SME developers,” but that’s an utter lie. SMEs are not pro-FRAND. Microsoft is. And this is yet another attempt by ACT to hijack the voices of one’s opposition/competition. What is the content of this so-called ‘article’? It’s just a copy-paste job for this AstroTurfing front. Incredible!

“Microsoft has long exploited FRAND (while lobbying for it) as a tool for combating adoption of Free/Libre open source software.”Look what IP Kat has become! Is IP Kat now reprinting and amplifying Microsoft lobbying fronts? Coming from an author who professed admiration for Microsoft’s chief patent extortionist? What next? Guest posts from Microsoft?

This issue of Microsoft propaganda isn’t limited to IP Kat (Microsoft was the sole chief sponsor of that recent event Bristows flew to). There are similar issues with Microsoft-connected media like IAM. They’re an extensive network of lobbying, not news or information. It makes it hard to trust all sorts of publications, for quite a few of them receive money that affects their coverage. Someone recently advised us to speak to Taz, a German publication which may be interested in covering EPO scandals. “I don’t know if I can trust Taz with material,” I replied, as “IAM betrayed some before.” Back then we weren’t quite aware of IAM’s deep ties to the EPO, including financial strings. “I don’t know who owns Taz,” I continued. “After the experience with IAM I am very picky where I send information/stuff.” Yes, I do try to encourage the media to cover EPO scandals and often these endeavors are successful.

“This issue of Microsoft propaganda isn’t limited to IP Kat (Microsoft was the sole chief sponsor of that recent event Bristows flew to).”In summary, here’s a word of caution. Whatever IP Kat published under the name “Merpel”, it’s no longer the same Kat and media should in general be treated very cautiously unless one knows who is really behind it and where loyalties lie. One sure thing is, IAM is still very much in bed with the EPO, even if it doesn’t write much about it. See what happened in Korea a couple of weeks ago.

04.16.17

Apple’s Legal Actions Against Android and Against Qualcomm Could Eventually Weaken Patents at Two Levels

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Hardware (chipsets) and software alike, with dubious software patents that accompany them, have made phones incredibly expensive

Phone and USPTO

Summary: By tackling the practices of Qualcomm and by dragging companies to court over ridiculous design patents (potential of blanket ban by the Supreme Court) Apple weakens the very business model it will need to rely on as its market diminishes, leaving it with nothing but patents

THE mobile market is worth a lot of money these days. The exact numbers depend on how it’s measured and what exactly gets included in the measure. But no doubt more and more people now turn to mobility. Many sales are made in it, both of devices and software (licensing). Apple’s sales are declining and many of the headlines we come across (when it comes to Apple at least) are about new patents and patent applications from Apple. Perhaps that’s just Apple’s vision/foresight of its future. It want to prey on OEMs that are actually shipping a lot of phones (Huawei for example). This is why Microsoft, for example, attacked Samsung in the courts — using software patents of course — and then virtually forced Samsung to become its vassal. It’s a strategy of coercion. A lot of patent battles are now focused/centered around the mobile market (connections, interfaces, touch-enabled devices, navigation and so on) as many companies try to turn a pile of patents into revenue without actually creating anything. Qualcomm is a good example of this.

“It’s a strategy of coercion.”Qualcomm's management seems growingly nervous about the antitrust action in various places as well as the lawsuits/complaints [1, 2], notably Apple‘s. The $815m BlackBerry arbitration, which was mentioned here the other day, gets a mention in patent maximalists’ sites and Florian Müller took note of it after we had sent him some links related to it. It seems possible, albeit it’s subjected to the Supreme Court’s instincts, that another Apple case against Android will reach the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). As Müller put it just before Easter (taking special note of the role of CCIA):

One organization that has previously supported Samsung against Apple, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), appears to have decided not to get active again at this stage. But in case certiorari is granted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see CCIA get involved again. With respect to design patent damages, CCIA’s work was really great. But even CCIA may at some point experience such a thing as litigation fatigue: the Apple v. Samsung dispute is now six years old.

Samsung’s design patents-related petition was exceptional. It had tremendous support and, since it raised sort of a once-in-a-century type of issue, it was a slam dunk (to the extent that a cert petition can be a slam dunk at all, given overall stats). The fact that certain amici who supported Samsung on design patents aren’t on board this time doesn’t mean that the three issues raised last months aren’t also certworthy in their own ways and their own right.

We wrote about this case many times before and if it reaches SCOTUS, then we definitely expect the patents to be challenged and quite likely invalidated, as per the pattern of recent SCOTUS decisions on patents. If that happens, what will Apple be left with? Apple is the next Qualcomm.

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.

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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