02.27.18

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Patent Trolls Like Xperi and Fraunhofer Get Patents and Payments From East Asia

Posted in Asia, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Panasonic

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Summary: Xperi receives some patents from Panasonic whereas Fraunhofer, not quite a patent troll but still a major parasite, receives patent payments from the giant Huawei, a Chinese government-connected firm which uses a lot of Linux

THE demise of software patents in the US is great news (courts typically reject software patents that the USPTO granted), but at the same time software patents are gaining a foothold in China.

Benjamin Henrion correctly said that “no one in the software industry checks the patent database before writing code. If you know at least one human who does it, let’s schedule an interview, it will be fun!”

“Not just in software,” I replied. “Reading patents only makes the reader more liable (for higher damages)…”

The matter of fact is, in the domain of software which many people use, developers typically browse repositories and code, not patents. That just makes sense. It’s common sense. It’s better use of time. It’s therefore unfortunate that China decided to allow patents on software. Whose clever idea was it?

Based on this new press release, the Chinese government-connected giant Huawei now succumbs to demands from a de facto patent troll like MPEG-LA. They’re painting that as “Fraunhofer”, but it’s that same old patent pool of software patents. That cartel has managed to devour Huawei too. From the announcement:

Global communications equipment provider Huawei has entered into a worldwide patent license agreement with the renowned developer of audio and media technologies, Fraunhofer IIS, for Fraunhofer’s MPEG-4 Audio patent portfolio. The license agreement addresses past and future use of Fraunhofer’s MPEG-4 Audio patent portfolio in Huawei’s products.

Those are purely software; it’s all about software patents. Then again, can China pretend to be against them?

“Another Panasonic deal with an NPE,” IAM noted, “this time Xperi” (NPE just means patent troll). Panasonic is Japanese, unlike Huawei, and Japan’s JPO seems to have gotten a little tougher on patents lately. Is that what motivated Panasonic to offload patents onto a troll? As Managing IP noted this morning :

An increase in IoT players needing standard-essential patents has spurred the JPO to set guidelines. But IP practitioners are concerned the guidelines may not provide enough flexibility in SEP negotiations and will lack clarity

Those so-called ‘IP practitioners’ just want lots of legal disputes — the very thing Japan/JPO is trying to prevent here.

Going back to IAM, there’s also an article/blog post about it. Offloading patents to a patent troll like Xperi (which IAM was grooming earlier this month) may simply suggest that Panasonic sees no value or purpose for these patents. IAM said:

Xperi picked up a portfolio of chip patents from Panasonic last December, according to USPTO assignment records. It was the second small-scale transaction between the two in the space of about one year. For the publicly traded licensing company formerly known as Tessera, it is the latest in a series of portfolios sourced from Japan, Inc.

Assignment documents show that Tessera Advanced Technologies Inc acquired nine granted patents as part of the December, 2017 deal: five from the US, four from Japan and one from China. The patents appear to be related to various semiconductor technologies, and are packaged along with a number of abandoned or expired rights. The transaction came one year after a slightly larger deal in December 2016 saw the Xperi vehicle acquire around 20 US and foreign patents from the Osaka-based company.

[...]

It doesn’t look like Panasonic and Xperi have been involved in any courtroom tangles. But the relationship comes as no surprise. Panasonic has formed partnerships and completed deals with many of the biggest names among major NPEs and PIPCOs over the last several years.

As we noted in past years, Panasonic even claimed to have open-sourced its patents. We mostly take all that (or interpret it) to mean that Panasonic sees not much value in patents anymore and it gives them away. It previously paid Microsoft for some patents.

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