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back to article UN locks Apple, Google, Microsoft in a room for patent peace summit

Tech titans including Apple, Nokia, Google and Microsoft will today argue the toss at a UN confab on whether patent law is stifling innovation. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) arranged the get-together to assess the effectiveness of allowing companies to sort out the licensing of patents crucial to building …

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DJV
Alert

Oh no!

Patent system has a large injection of common sense - sales of popcorn nose dive!

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Unhappy

How I wish this was true…

I fear this is only the beginning of the Great Patent Wars of the 21st Century.

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Anonymous Coward

BLEAK HOUSE

its reminiscent of Dickens Bleak House, litigation that went on for so long year on year that those involved suddenly found the money had gone, spent on legal costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How I wish this was true…

First they came for the cellphones, but I didn''t have an up to date one because the Indians had taken my job and screwed it up and gotten themselves fired.

Then they came for the televisions. But I didn''t have an up to date one because ......

Then they came for the microwaveable lasagne. Die die die !

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FAIL

The statement from that guy suggests..

...that essential patents can't get a ban, but Apple's behaviour is acceptable (i.e. not being marked down for widely noted bullyishness).

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Meh

meh

This is just about the standards-essential patents, the rounded corner craziness will live on....

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Boffin

I still like the idea of locking all the patent lawyers in a room and then throwing away the key. Same for patent trolls except their room is airtight.

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Anonymous Coward

Then we'd end up with a marketplace like China where there are few big world conquering brands. Simply because nobody will dare spent a lot of money developing a product as they know a competitor will simply duplicate the entire design and release their own version.

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TRT
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Happy

Good idea, but...

can I patent it?

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@AC 13:39 - Thing is, we're headed down the path to where nobody will dare spending a lot of money developing a product as they know that their competition will sue them into oblivion because of vague similarities.

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Anonymous Coward

That is not what will happen.

Companies will be able to innovate without the fear of being sued for billions. Whoever makes the better product/advertising will win.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

"That is not what will happen."

THAT’S WHAT'S HAPPENING !!! ...... WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FUCKING COFFEE

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Re: Good idea, but...

Prior art

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Anonymous Coward

ZTE, Huawei.

Next.

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Anonymous Coward

outlawing product bans won using standards-essential patents

This is unfair. All the holders of standards essential patents have played together for many years without a problem until Apple came along. Apple doesn't hold any essential patents but has been granted many extremely dubious ones such as the ipad design that consisted of nothing more than a rectangle and the joke that is slide to unlock. Apple wants to make a mobile device then fine, but it is right that they should pay the companies that created the means to make it a mobile device and those companies should be paid fairly. Fairly in this instance means more than the other holders of essential patents are expected to pay as Apple have contributed nothing to it and have nothing of value to offer in return.

These companies have had no choice but to use them as weapons against Apple as the courts have allowed Apple to demand a lot more for the patents they hold (which should never have been granted, software patents are a bad thing) than those essential ones leading to the situation that a patent for actually allowing a phone to contact another phone is worth less than a design element that just allows a scroll bar to bounce back when it hits the end and Apple have been given a free ride to demand as much as they like ($30 is really taking the piss).

I have no doubt that the usual suspects will be along shortly to declare how this is fine and you lose all rights when you allow your patent to become part of a standard. This is not true. The terms of becoming part of the standard are that they must be reasonable. It is perfectly reasonable for say Motorola to allow cross licensing of their essential patents with Samsung for a nominal fee of a penny as both companies have patents the other needs or their device doesn't work. it is also reasonable to say to Apple 'we would like $20 from you for the same patents' as Apple have nothing to contribute back. If Apple claim $30 is reasonable for a design element, then logically is is reasonable to ask $100 for patents that actually make a device work.

If this goes ahead it will allow companies such as Apple to get away with taking all their competitors to court and demanding bans over very trivial things, while those that have actually developed real technology will not be able to fight back in any way. R&D spending will dwindle and innovation will suffer for it. Why should a company invest millions in the next generation hardware when the courts will force them to effectively give it away to their competitors who will be able to sue and get their products banned over a design element that compared to real research costs nothing to come up with. When it becomes much more lucrative to draw pretty pictures than develop new kinds of hardware something has gone wrong somewhere.

Designs should never be a patent issue, they should be a copyright issue

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Stop

Wrong on a number of levels

Firstly Apple own a whole stack of SEPs, covering h.264, 3G and 4G among others. They've committed not to use these offensively.

Secondly where they have been arguing over licensing, the argument has been over the amount asked. Samsung had, for example, been asking for 2.4% of the selling price of Apple's devices when most of the rest if the market get their licence as part if their $10 baseband chip.

If FRAND can be properly codified, so everyone knows up front what using a standard will cost them, and if companies who fail to pay a court mandated license amount (but only those companies) can have their products blocked then I think the main problems of SEPs are covered.

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Re: outlawing product bans won using standards-essential patents

When a patent becomes an essential standard then the cost of license should be the same for all. The cost to license should also be stated in the standard. No special treatment for anyone. All should be entitled to use without pre-approval, just fill out the form and mail the check.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: outlawing product bans won using standards-essential patents

"Apple doesn't hold any essential patents but has been granted many extremely dubious ones..."

Logic fail much?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: outlawing product bans won using standards-essential patents

"Logic fail much?"

How so? Oh I see, you've read it as "Apple doesn't hold any essential patents but has been granted many extremely dubious essential patents..."

No, try: "Apple doesn't hold any essential patents but has been granted many extremely dubious non-essential patents, such as rounded rectangle designs and slide to unlock..."

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Apple owns 5% of the entire LTE patent pool

Acquired from Nortel. The fact they didn't develop these patents themselves doesn't mean they are any less valid than say the patents Google now owns thanks to their acquisition of Motorola.

If Google and Samsung want to fight on standards based patents, Apple could just as well play their game and pull the agreements granting access to Nortel LTE patents from Motorola, Samsung and others and watch iOS and Android both go up in flames and see Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 take over the smartphone world by default.

I suspect this is an outcome no one but MS fanboys and RIM fanboys (are there any RIM fanboys left?) would enjoy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong on a number of levels

Nokia, Qualcomm, InterDigital, Ericsson and Motorola already had the vast majority of 3G patents by 2004.

This should be obvious, since the first iPhone in 2007 did not yet have 3G, although most of its competitors did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G

Apple are also not the originators of GSM or UMTS, or CDMA.

The names you are probably looking for in handsets at least, are Qualcomm, Nokia and Motorola.

And possibly Hedy Lamarr.

http://www.cellular.co.za/gsmhistory.htm

ww.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/Miscellaneous/GSM Vs CDMA-A Comparative Study Case.htm

Additionally Apple are not signatories of the 3GPP which is developing standards for such things as LTE

Apple are probably the only phone manufacturer in the world that is not a signatory of 3GPP.

FRAND is part of the 3GPP patent-sharing arrangements.

http://www.3gpp.org/Partners

Even the American member group of 3GPP, ATIS, is conspicuously missing Apple.

http://www.atis.org/membership/members.asp

Instead of working with the 3GPP standards group as a member to contribute to helping develop LTE etc,, it apears they prefer to use lawsuits as their R&D participation method in 3GPP.

Qualcomm are probably breathing a little easier now as Apple are making even them look like good guys by comparison. Maybe Apple want to be the RamBus of the handset world?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple owns 5% of the entire LTE patent pool

What if the 95% that actually did some developing work for LTE get offended?

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FAIL

Re: Wrong on a number of levels - @AC 9:29

The original iPhone not having 3G was nothing to do with the ownership of patents, it was to do with battery life (early 3G chipsets were heavy on power) and the international state of 3G rollout (patchy at best in 2007). The whole point of an international standard and FRAND is that anyone can make a device using it and be guaranteed of receiving a licence after it is launched.

Apple bought a whole stack of Nortel patents, some of which cover 3G and some 4G. The point here is that Samsung have refused to simply cross-licence their 3G patents (which Apple offered) and are trying for terms that definitely don't match the definition of FRAND.

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Stop

Re: Wrong on a number of levels - @AC 9:29

Oh, and as to 3GPP membership, you only need to be a member if you are involved in creating the standard, NOT using it. So far Apple hasn't been involved in creating the standard (they simply bought the Nortel patents, and Nortel were), but they have been involved in other standards setting processes like MP4/h.264. When it comes to creating extensions to LTE or developing 5G expect them to start showing an interest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong on a number of levels - FAIL

"Samsung had, for example, been asking for 2.4% of the selling price of Apple's devices when most of the rest if the market get their licence as part if their $10 baseband chip."

...and if apple used a $10 Samsung baseband chip then they would get the licence included like everyone else. Samsung probably make more from the licence of the product than they do an the actual chip.

instead, apple incorporate the technology in a preparatory chip so need to pay the licensing of the technology separately. 2.4% of the sale price may be a little high, but i think apples biggest gripe is about the % being on sale price. As apple charge a little more than what is realistic or fair for a 35GB version of their product they wont like it that Samsung will be taking a little bit of this pie when Samsung technology has nothing to do with the added revenue.

the thing is, Apple don’t like Samsungs terms for using their technology so decide to say "fuck you, we are not giving you anything" then bombard Samsung with a whole host of stupid patent infringement claims on things like oblongs, square corners, slide to unlock.... turn the whole circus into a johnny "foreigner against the US of A" to get the jury and judge on side.....

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FAIL

No, they get their baseband chips from the usual sources

The iPhone 5 baseband is by Qualcomm for instance (the same chip that Samsung use in the Galaxy SIII). Qualcomm already have a cross-licence with Samsung, which Samsung tried to withdraw ONLY for Apple.

The whole point of FRAND (which is what Samsung committed to when they made their patents part of the UMTS 3G standard) is that YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THEM TO BLOCK COMPETITORS. All the patents that Apple have been using are nonessential, you can build a smartphone without infringing them.

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Paying many times

Maybe the length of the validity of a patent should correspond somewhat to the replacement cycle time for said product. As a consumer who replaces a smart phone every 3 years or so, why should I pay 7 times to have bounce-back on my phone?

I can see that (maybe) I should pay to have this feature, but I don't think I should pay the inventor more than once. So my proposal would be that mobile / user / consumer software patents should be valid for about 5 years, then just about everyone will have paid to use the software once or maybe twice, and in my opinion that is plenty!

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WTF?

Why?

Why is it the huge multi-national companies, the ones that can afford the lawyers that get a say. Are they not the ones who benefit the most from the absurdity of the current system?

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"We all want a fair and even patent system...

...we just don't want these other guys to have it as well."

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Holmes

Standards should be open and free.

If you develop as system that will be used as an essential part of a larger system then that system should be free and accessable to all that use the larger system.

Development costs should recouped in developing products or propriety systems that use this larger system

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Re: Standards should be open and free.

Certainly if you submit it to a standards body.

Pretty much all the companies on the list have been guilty of promoting some format to ISO and then once it's official announcing that they own some patent on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Standards should be open and free.

So... I invent a gizmo, which revolutionises communications, making it easier, quicker and cheaper for all to make phone calls. I offer it to the standards body and they say thanks, but you'll get nothing from anybody for using this. Millions upon millions of devices are made and everyone is happy, except me.

By your theory, I have to then go on to design, develop, market and sell my very own mobile phone, taking on Apple, Samsung, Motorola, et al, and make my money that way.

Alternatively, I can offer it for 1p per device, which seems fair and reasonable to me.

Genius, pure genius.

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Facepalm

Re: Standards should be open and free.

"By your theory, I have to then go on to design, develop, market and sell my very own mobile phone, taking on Apple, Samsung, Motorola, et al, and make my money that way."

You forgot the bit where you have to pay lawyers millions in fees because the big boys gang up on you for infringing on the billions of stupid and vague patents they hold to the point they take your technology in settlement.....

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Coat

Sorry...

The term 'SEP' was copyrighted by Douglas Adams — Somebody Else's Problem...

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Pint

Wrong planet

'You're meant to encourage innovation, not stifle it'

Nononono - these are companies, they're meant to make money for their shareholders. That's what they are constituted to do, and should do. End of.

It's up to governments and legislators to regulate or moderate that paradigm into some kind of broader community or social benefit - but they stubbornly refuse to do so, and seem to believe (flying in the face of both intuitive logic and decades of experience) that an unfettered market will create a nice planet to live on. And while I'm more instinctively a European than many Brits, I do feel that the EU have been even worse than most national governments at cosying up to business at the expense of any broader social benefit.

Of course the companies' PR mechanisms work very hard to perpetuate the fallacy that what's good for companies is good for everyone, and they are good at making people believe this shit - but the stupidity of people in continuing to do so just makes me ....

<sigh>

Should be a FAIL icon, but I'm going for Beer because I fucking need one.

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Nokia

Frankly, that Nokia guy puts it so simply and so well that I struggle to see how a reasonable third party could disagree.

"We're offering 'em, they won't take 'em. What the he'll else do we do, Mr UN?"

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WTF?

Seems trivial..

I thought apple had a patent on the patent system?

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Megaphone

Microsoft being tricky bastards as usual

Rather than negotiate a cost on Moto's FRAND patents, they left the negotiating table and ran straight to the US courts. As one Python once said to another "don't you want to haggle?".

As it currently stands Microsoft ARE infringing on FRAND patents but they've managed to convince a US judge that FRAND means we get to use it for free and not even negotiate a fair and reasonable price. Which exactly what Moto tried to do by kicking off negotiations with the 2.4% price per handset.

And yet Microsoft continue to crow and charge Android handset makers reportedly 5% per handset For their own dud patents.

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DR

Re: Microsoft being tricky bastards as usual

Fair price doesn't just mean a small fee, it means something that's fair to the market place.

this needs to be a fixed quantity applied equally throughout the market place. not a percent of sale cost.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft being tricky bastards as usual

"Fair price doesn't just mean a small fee, it means something that's fair to the market place.

this needs to be a fixed quantity applied equally throughout the market place. not a percent of sale cost."

sorry, but I dont agree....

FRAND licensing does need to be at a fixed level across the market, but it cant be a fixed price. That would kill the budget end of the market which is a massive part of the income to manufacturers. Premium prices are only gained on the initial sales. each month or as new products are announced then the price will drop....

Setting the price of the licence is a complex matter and just cant be a figure pulled of of thin air. You have to consider the cost and risk the to the developer to to develop the technology, then you have to consider how important that technology is to the end product. as well as quantities sold.

what is needed is for licensing of technology not to be the quick fix. There will only ever be innovation while a company can build an entire product out of licensed technologies. It may be risk free of patent claims, but newer technology will only come along when the big boys have flooded the market with current technology when they then release a new bit of kit for others to incorporate into their devices. We will only see new products as an when its most profitable for a few large R&D companies....

The best way forward is if licensing fees be on a % of sale price or a fixed price up front before a product is launched. The fees need to be high enough not to quash independent r&d but low enough to keep products affordable....

answers on a postcard please !!

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