07.26.17

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Latest High-Profile Patent Cases Against Apple and What These Mean to Linux-Powered Competitors of Apple

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Patents at 6:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at the latest patent news and developments surrounding Apple products (and the possible ramifications for OEMs that directly compete against Apple)

EARLIER today Reuters reported that “Apple [is] ordered to pay $506 million to university in patent dispute”, alluding to a decision that’s two days old:

A U.S. judge on Monday ordered Apple Inc to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s patent licensing arm, more than doubling the damages initially imposed on Apple by a jury.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison added $272 million to a $234 million jury verdict the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation won against Apple in October 2015. Conley said WARF is owed additional damages plus interest because Apple continued to infringe the patent, which relates to computer processor technology, until it expired in December 2016.

This was referenced by few news sites other than Apple-connected or Apple-leaning sites. We wrote about this case several times before; it’s not about software patents, but the penalty seems to be huge and it’s rather obscene that institutions funded by public money use that money to pursue patents and then increase the prices of products through litigation (often privatised for private gain/profit).

Nokia Still Passive-Aggressive

Microsoft has turned Nokia into a reckless, merciless patent troll which preys on Microsoft’s competitors (not just Apple; this has been dangerous to Android OEMs too). See the new Reuters report titled “Patents boost to offset weak networks for Nokia” (via Tom Hochstatter‏, who remarked: “Patents boost to offset weak networks for Nokia – as well they (and other large corporations) should.”).

Nokia seems to be using patents as a sort of ‘insurance policy’ and is suing companies, not just passing patents to trolls (at Microsoft’s instruction). As the article put it:

Telecoms gear maker Nokia is likely to see a boost to quarterly earnings on Thursday from a recent patent licensing deal with Apple that offsets weak demand in its main equipment business from network operators.

However, investors have grown more nervous on the stock since loss-making Swedish rival Ericsson slashed its forecast on the global network market last week.

In a Reuters poll of analysts, Nokia’s networks sales are seen falling 3 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, while revenues from its technologies unit, including patent royalties, are seen up 40 percent following the deal with Apple.

It doesn’t mention what Nokia is doing to Android OEMs now.

Qualcomm in the Corner

Then there’s Qualcomm, whose situation we wrote about a few days ago. As CCIA put it yesterday:

Last week, CCIA filed a statement on the public interest in Qualcomm v. Apple at the International Trade Commission (ITC), Qualcomm’s newest attempt to use patent law to reinforce their monopoly power over the baseband processor market.

In a response filed yesterday, Qualcomm accused CCIA of partaking in a “coordinated effort aimed at misdirecting the [ITC], all but ignoring the statutory public interest factors.”1 Unfortunately, Qualcomm’s response fails to actually address the filing’s criticisms. Qualcomm’s engaging in some misdirection of their own.

CCIA’s complaint was mentioned prior to this by Florian Müller, who stated:

Earlier this month, Qualcomm filed an ITC complaint in pursuit of a U.S. import ban against Apple’s iPhones (except for iPhones coming with a Qualcomm baseband chipset). Last week, Apple, Intel and two industries groups (CCIA and ACT) filed public-interest statements seeking to dissuade the U.S. trade agency from granting Qualcomm its requested relief and proposing, at a minimum, that the public-interest aspects of this case be referred to an Administrative Law Judge.

An outright decision by the ITC not to investigate Qualcomm’s complaint would be unusual and I wouldn’t bet on this happening, but in this particular case there are reasons for which Qualcomm would probably be denied an import ban at the end of the proceedings even if it prevailed on the merits (if it came to worst, by a presidential veto).

As we stated earlier this year, if Apple succeeds in this battle, it would actually be beneficial to Android (and Tizen, Sailfish OS etc.) OEMs. They too are suffering from Qualcomm.

ACT is a Microsoft front group, but this stance (as elucidated above) isn’t too surprising because Qualcomm has patent disputes with Microsoft as well.

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