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back to article Apple goes to European Commission with complaint about Motorola

Apple has lodged a complaint with the European Commission over Motorola Mobility's use of standards-essential patents in lawsuits with the fruity firm. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late on Friday, Motorola said that it had received a letter from the EC informing it of the complaint from Apple earlier …

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Facepalm

How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

It's time that the standards system is overhauled.

If a standard requires the inclusion of something patented, that patent should immediately become null and void.

This will stop companies trying to game standards (Microsoft's OOXML anyone?).

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Bronze badge

Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

Better yet, if a patented process/method/whatever is rolled into a standard (only possible with the owner's permission of course) then the owner of the patent gets a set sum (perhaps a percentage of the first year's value?) and the patent is transferred to the standard itself.

This allows for companies to make some money from the R&D they do while allowing standards committees to at least consider using proprietary 'stuff'.

Also limits the greed so there goes any chance of it happening.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

Companies spend a ton of time and money researching this stuff, then patent it - they deserve to get some money back and not just have somebody say "well it's in a patent now, give it away for free!" It might not hurt the giant globocorps much but it'd kick small companies + inventors in the bollocks. Besides, no money = no incentive to develop the next standard.

So what they do is tell the patent owners: "We'll use your patent in the standard, but you have to license it to *anyone*, even apple, and you have to license it *cheaply*". In return they get a very small slice of a very big pie.

Or, you can do as motorola has done. Agree to the FRAND licensing. License it to qualcomm, who sell the licensed product to apple, then tell qualcomm the license doesn't cover apple. Then demand 2.4% of the price of the 3G chip that uses your patents. Plus 2.4% of the stuff it's connected to. And 2.4% of the entire phone. Screw it, 2.4% of the whole of apple, call it fair and hope nobody notices. And if they agree to that, follow it up with 2.4% for wifi, 2.4% for bluetooth, 2.4% for h264 video, and you're up to nearly 10% of the retail cost of the device already! (If 10 companies did this 100% of the device cost would go on patents *just * for the essential stuff!)

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Silver badge

Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

These essential patents cover extremely valuable technology. Apple adds an extra $130 to the price of an ipad if you want a 3g chip in it! If the original creators of the phone market didn't have a way to claim some of that value then they'd not have created the market in the first place, and Apple wouldn't be selling anywhere near as much hardware as it is.

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Boffin

Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

The crux of the matter is that Motorola offered their FRAND licensing to Apple to an amount that falls within the "Fair and Resonable" licensing scheme (albeit likely the top end, but still within the limits), and Apple rejected it and STILL used the patented technology. Similar to Apple suing Samsung for using an OS (which they got from Google) that had rounded corners on icons that are arrayed in a grid on the screen. If the technology supplied by Qualcomm is the only infringment in question, and if the licensing to Qualcomm covers third-parties that use said Qualcomm chips, then Motorola doesn't have a leg to stand on. Of course, this is likely not the case, or else this suit would have been readily tossed already.

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Re: Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

Erm, older iPhones don't use the Qualcomm baseband chip. Indeed, the iPhone 4S is safe from Motorola's licensing because it is a Qualcomm chipset and (I assume) covered by Qualcomm's licensing. Motorola is complaining about FRAND licensing because Apple isn't paying them licensing for the older iPhones chipset when Motorola believe they should and disagreeing about the cost.

Thats my understanding of a complex situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong - read

See above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

Doesn't Microsoft do that with Android-handsetmakers?

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Re: Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

I wonder how much R and D was involved in inventing swiping a screen?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: How in hell can "standards-essential patents" exist?

The only way that will solve these problems is for everyone to boycott Apple. Maybe then, Apple will get the message.

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Anonymous Coward

One day...

Apple will win all the patent cases and there will only be one true phone,

The iPhone,

Gods phone,

and the sky will become dark,

the seas will rise

and then there will be light.

We shall all stand in front of the Lord Jobs and worship his idol and the masses will proclaim

All hail the Apple.....

Then I woke up from my nightmare.

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Thumb Down

Re: Wrong - read

Wrong? If you're referencing Ammaross Danan's post, I don't agree.

Lets look at some facts:

The iPhone 4S uses a Qualcomm baseband chip

The iPhone 4S was NOT the subject of the Motorola ban in Germany rumored to be because its a Qualcomm chip powering the radio.

The iPhone 3GS / 4 (maybe more) uses an Infineon baseband chip

Motorola changes their licensing terms with Qualcomm's license with Apple

Motorola offers the FRAND license to which Apple decline.

My guess:

The iPhone 4S chip is licensed through Qualcomm and unaffected. I guess its iicensed through Qualcomm.

The iPhone 3GS / 4 chip now requires separate licensing. I can only guess it was licensed before..

My guess would be that Apple is trying to license the 3GS and 4 through the Qualcomm license. (Purely my interpretation with the evidence)

I have however just found that late 2011, the 3GS uses another different baseband chip, a Toshiba one - see Wikipedia.

While we're here, many of the major phone makers have contributed years of R&D to various telephony standards. Why should a newcomer ie. Apple, pay the same as say Nokia / Moto who have pumped billions in R&D over many years. Cross licensing is what makes this situation extremely complex.

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Coat

I suppose

"standards-essential patents" are patents held by competitors but does never apply to patents held by "us".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I suppose

That's pretty much what google have said over the past few years if you look back at how their position has changed :D

Apple actually hold a big pile of standards essential patents too I suspect, but they're not using them and have publicly said they'll never try to use them unfairly or try to get a product banned with them (unless the other company tries it against them first). They're using regular, non-essential patents.

Strange times we live in: microsoft actually issued the most respectable statement on this issue, basically promising to use them fairly and reasonably. I'd say apple was 2nd most reasonable (similar to MS but with a few "except if they start it" cop-outs). Google basically said "yeah of course we'll be totally fair and reasonable, what motorola and samsung are doing is fair and reasonable right?".

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Re: I suppose

You might want to check your notes on that — Nokia sued Apple (and won), not vice versa. See e.g. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8321058.stm

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Trollface

Re: Re: I suppose

Fixed it for you Chris,

<sarcasm >

"Apple actually hold a big pile of standards essential patents too I suspect, but they're not using them and have publicly said they'll never try to use them unfairly or try to get a product banned with them (unless the other company's product has round corners and threatens their position as a market leader)".

</sarcasm >

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I suppose

No, Nokia sued first. Apple countersued. Source: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2009/tc20091212_551557.htm

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Megaphone

Bored

Is anyone else bored of hearing about the Apple girly slapfights?

Why don't these childish idiots get together in a meeting room somewhere and sort it out.

Not that Samsung/Motorola/HTC are any different but it almost always seems to be with Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bored

"Why don't these childish idiots get together in a meeting room somewhere and sort it out."

Oi! Apple, take it like the girl you are!

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Trollface

Re: Bored

I reqest a real-life version of that plasticine TV show "Celebrity death-match".

Up first, Apple vs. the rest of Motorola, Samsung et. al.

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Coat

Or to make it more clear

Being a upstart in cell phones, all that enables producing a cell phone is "standards-essential" for Apple while patents related to making a god phone are not.

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g e
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So how come

No-one else has complained about Samsung or Moto FRAND arrangements then if they're playing fast and loose with them.

Could it actually be that Apple were offered agreements on the same basis as everyone else and refused them thinking it was above paying for things or that it knew better?

I'm damned sure Nokia, Sagem, LG, Ericksson, SONY, et al would all have had something to say if anyone was doing anything other than playing by the rules.

I think Apple are trying to shirk their commitment and are reckoning that the lawyers, only costing a couple of million for this case maybe, are a cheap gamble if it gets them out of a massive arrears payment which DOESN'T have to be FRAND-based due to their willful infringement.

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Re: So how come

Nope, from what I've read it looks like apple is using Qualcomm chips. And Qualcomm pays license to MOTO. So Apple shouldn't.

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FAIL

Re: So how come

FRAND = "Fair, Reasonable And Non Discriminatory". Which part of that bit in bold do you not understand?

Motorola Mobility, Sagem, Samsung, etc. have been making mobile phones for years. Suddenly, here comes this boutique computer manufacturer out of nowhere and spanks the whole fucking lot of them, showing them up for the overly conservative, risk-averse bullshitters they are and proving that it is possible to make a "smart-phone" that's genuinely easy to use.

The old guard don't like disruptive innovations like "good design". Hence the ridiculous number of lawsuits from the likes of Samsung and their ilk, trying to slap Apple down and teach them a lesson.

As others have pointed out ad infinitum: Apple shouldn't have to pay a damned "license", because Apple are buying the same chips everyone else uses for the GSM and CDMA functionality. If I buy a chip from Qualcomm, I bloody well expect Qualcomm to have paid for the patents already. Why the hell should I have to pay Samsung and Moto again for the same patents when I'm merely a customer of one of their existing licensees?

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Mushroom

Re: Re: So how come

Good luck when 2015 comes and Apple Lawyers will come and ask you the license for the codec of that video of your cat snoozing on your sofa you uploaded to the internet for anyone to watch.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: So how come

When have apple asserted a Standards patent they own? License certainly.

H264? - Never.

Apple and Microsoft have undertaken to adhere to FRAND rules where as Googl/Motorola have not

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/09/google_fails_to_assure_on_frand/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Re: So how come

Microsoft are currently involved in court over H264 actually. They're being sued - by a company owned by motorola.

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So how come

Yep - also HTC and Nokia are being sued by IPCom an independent patent troll that acquired some standards essential patents and is determined to make the most of them.

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FAIL

Re: So how come

A large proportion of the companies likely have patents in the same set of standards so cross-license them, slap each other on the back on a job well done and go off for a pint. Since Apple hasn't been in the game long enough they have no equivalent patents in the telco standards so they get whacked upside the head with a hefty demand for royalties.

Plus the entire FRAND patent space is a *JOKE*. Who is to decide what is fair and reasonable, not to mention non-discrimatory? None of these agreements between companies are (generally) public so it is impossible to tell if Moto's demand for 2.4% was reasonable based on their other agreements or was a land-grab by Moto. From memory the agreement between Qualcomm and Moto is being submitted to the court under seal so we won't even get to see that. I also believe that the standards bodies have no overview on the agreements that go to let people make products based on those standards, despite the fact the playing fields most likely are NOT as level as people might otherwise think.

Even if the agreements are fair and reasonable, a lot of the people with 2g/3g/GPRS/etc standards must be rubbing their hands and laughing all the way to the bank as the Apple products are at the higher end of the price bracket for phones so consequently the patent pay payments are more than they would be for a lot of other phones.

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Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

How can Apple claim a slide to unlock patent and then cry about others slide-to unlock type patents. Seriously, suck it up or practice what you preach dear apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

Nothing to do with FRAND

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Paris Hilton

Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

So, apple invent a new way to unlock your phone (or maybe someone else did it before them - the courts will decide, that's their job). They patent it to protect their hard work (the purpose of a patent, after all). Some other company copies it instead of thinking of their own way to unlock the phone, and apple sue them, telling them to stop copying.

Another company holds a patent that you need for 3G. Without it, a 3G phone can't make calls or connect to the internet, there's no way to work around it. They agree to license it fairly to anyone so that it gets included in the standard. Apple asks for a license, and they say "We want tons of money!", apple say "No, fuck off, we want a fair license *like you offer to everyone else*", and the company says "right, no 3G for you then!".

You think this is the same thing? If so, we must meet up, I have this car you might be interested in. It's just like a BMW, it has wheels and pedals and everything.

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

It wasn't copied. Other makers did something different, but it was covered by Apple's patent. If the Neonode makers has patented "a swipe gesture" to unlock the phone then Apple's would be a "copy". Apple patented "moving an icon on a predefined path" and others were found to be "copying" even though what was being moved on their devices would not necessarily be considered an icon and the path was not physically portrayed on the screen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

"Let the courts decide"

It's nothing to do with who patents it, but who invents it. If neonode made something that apple's patent describes, and they did it before apple applied for the patent, then the court will see that and declare the patent invalid.

Few people know how the patent system works. Pretty much *all* patents that are granted are invalid - too broad, prior art, lots of reasons, but they're invalid. What happens? Somebody copies your work, you take them to court. They show prior art, they claim it's too broad, they claim its invalid. If you're unlucky the court declares the whole thing invalid. More common, the court says that out of your 10 claims (a patent is made from many separate claims, not just one "rectangle with round corners" as people believe) only 3 are valid. They'll also probably say those 3 are too broad, and they'll set a much narrower scope for the parts that are left.

End result: You end up with the lean "core" of the patent - the valid parts. Everyone makes their patent as broad as possible to start with and expects it to get narrowed down by the courts.

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

Actually, it's "first to patent" which matters, not "first to invent". Neonode did not make something which Apple's patent describes, because Apple's patent has an icon and Neonode's invention does not. But if Neonode had patented their invention then Apple's own invention may have been covered by Neonode's patent even though it wan't a copy, just because it uses a swipe action to unlock the device. In the same way, Android did not copy Apple but did infringe the patent.

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Facepalm

Re: Re: Re: Slide to unlock, oh grow up Apple

No! Apple's "swipe gesture" is a copy regardless of whether Neonode patented it or not.

To be patentable, an invention is supposed to be:-

1. New or Novel: The invention must be demonstrably different from publicly available ideas, inventions, or products (prior art) - I don't think apples addition of a moving icon is demonstrably different.

2. Useful: The invention must have some application or utility or be an improvement over existing products and/or techniques - hardly an improvement on the technique used on the Neonode.

3. Non-Obvious: The invention cannot be obvious to a person of "ordinary skill" in the field; non-obviousness usually is demonstrated by showing that practicing the invention yields surprising, unexpected results - Well tickle my tits 'till Tuesday, the "gesture" is so obvious that it's the elephant in the room. I guess that this should rule out round corners as a patentable item as well, obvious because it makes a device easier to hold and it doesn’t do as much damage when thrown by a super model.

How in the name of $DEITY did crApple NEVER get a patent on this?????????

Oh, and I believe that under USPTO rules all prior art should be included in the patent application, to the best of my knowledge the crApple patent application does not include a reference to the Neonode. I wonder why?

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Anonymous Coward

This is going to be fun...

Popcorn anyone?

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Happy

That's nice..

The fruity firm are now talking to you.

Apple and Google "told" El Reg

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Re: That's nice..

I think they have been for a while now.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/30/apple_statement/

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

WTF?

Any one notice the part

Motorola offered to license the tech to Apple, Apple refused to license it!

Then Apple sued.

Sorry Apple you refused to license the tech which was offered to you under FRAND.

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Re: Any one notice the part

you've got it all wrong

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any one notice the part

Yes. But you didn't notice the part where Motorola changed Qualcomm's license to prevent Apple having the same FAIR and Reasonable licences that that were availabler to everyone else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Any one notice the part

That's only for the iPhone 4S / iPad cases - the older iPhones didn't use qualcomm parts.

In the other cases, it sounds like motorola did offer a license, and apple refused - but apple are saying the offer wasn't fair or reasonable, which it's required to be under FRAND (which moto signed themselves up to). From what I've seen, it's a very long way from fair and reasonable, and apple would have been pretty stupid to accept it.

The problem here isn't really the patent system, or apple, or even FRAND - it's german law in these particular regions. It's massively biased in favour of the patent holder - something along the lines of "if apple found this license unacceptable, then they have to start paying motorola anyway or motorola can get their products banned".

Even worst case, I think if apple kept appealing it'd go to the EU courts and get overturned, but in the meantime motorola can potentially get apple's products banned in large markets.

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Anonymous Coward

No, you need to read and COMPREHEND all of this

http://articles.law360.s3.amazonaws.com/0249000/249997//mnt/rails_cache/https-ecf-wiwd-uscourts-gov-cgi-bin-show_doc-pl-caseid-29810-de_seq_num-329-dm_id-3602496-doc_num-93.pdf

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Re: Any one notice the part

Thus this preemptive strike to the commission before the courts get around to ruling that the phone must be banned; if they can get a ruling that Motorola acted in bad faith it'll at least allow Apple to argue that any judgment should be stayed pending the immediate appeal.

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Anonymous Coward

Pinhead indeed

Moto are suing apple

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Bored of all these 'Obvious to someone practiced of the art' patents.

Given a touch screen pocket device, how is making some obscure gesture on the screen with visual feedback patentable?

Surely it's obvious, you have to use a gesture as otherwise the screen could be unlocked accidentally, and you have to use visual feedback otherwise the user is never going to figure it out.

The only part you could argue was even vaguely non obvious is not just using an obscure button elsewhere on the device, on the grounds you can power down the touch screen completely thereby reducing battery usage.

I thought patents were supposed to help innovators, not protect market leaders and stifle innovators by making it impossible to produce anything which doesn't violate a dozen trivial patents.

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