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back to article Ericsson asks for unlikely ITC import ban on raft of Samsung stuff

Ericsson has asked for a ban on Samsung imports to the USA, following last week's patent filing which claimed just about every Samsung device with a radio was infringing. The legal case, filed in the ever-popular Eastern District of Texas, is based on patents which, according to Ericsson, Samsung licensed in 2001 and 2007, but …

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No to Mueller.

Please find someone other than Flurian Mueller as your expert - he is usually so far off the mark that it isn't funny.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No to Mueller.

Although not in this case.

Samsung moans about Ericsson charging too much for FRAND patents, Samsung then tries the same stunt on Apple. Is that so far off the mark?

It just proves that everyone should be charging low rates for FRAND and that Samsung has no licence to complain about Ericsson's prices if they're ripping others off in the same way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No to Mueller.

Off the mark/lying/paid sockpupper, as you prefer.

Come to think of it, maybe Ericsson are also a bit of a socket puppet right now, too.. tinfoil hats ON!

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Re: No to Mueller.

You are making a lot of assumptions.

I cannot find any reference to the amount that Ericsson have asked, so we don't know that Samsung are insisting they are low.

We don't have any information about the previous agreements and so don't know how reasonable Ericsson's terms are. If the previous agreements had licensed the patents at $2 for everything, but now Ericsson are demanding $50 because Samsung's business has grown by a lot since 2007 then I think that would be seen as unreasonable.

Let's just wait until more details about this case become available before deciding which party are in the wrong here.

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Re: No to Mueller.

"Patent-court lurker Flurian Mueller reckons that makes this case relevant to Apple's dispute with Samsung." - not exactly high praise, although they could have added "...but then he would, wouldn't he" at the end.

Possibly used as the source in the interests of getting an article up - Groklaw haven't covered it yet.

Also, on the Moto/Microsoft case, the judge didn't rule out a ban - just said that circumstances need to change before it will be considered.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No to Mueller.

Nah ahhhh! Somehow Ericsson has to be able to be linked back to Apple and that makes them the evil empire and is Samsung fans are the rebel alliance!

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Anonymous Coward

Too easy - Rockstar Bidco

Remember the consortium of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM and Sony that needed DOJ approval when they outbid Google/Intel for Nortel's patents? Presumably they're avoiding doing any of the things the DOJ thought might be anticompetitive.

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Facepalm

Absurd and farcical

I think it just goes to show how farcical the legal and patent systems have become when we are told that patents for actual useful technology must be licenced cheap, but patents for totally frivilous tat, as filed by Apple, can be worth $1 billion in court cases.

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Re: Absurd and farcical

FRAND patents are, yes, those items which are necessities, and design patents aren't. On a superficial level your argument might hold but treating FRAND patents as anything other than commodities would likely lead to there being, e.g., only one mobile telephone manufacturer -- or, more likely, a number of mutually incompatible phone systems -- since the first one to have secured a necessary patent for a particular technology could freeze out every other potential competitor. Alternatively, a "charge what the market will bear" cash-grab among all of the relevant patent holders could have a phone costing only slightly less than a small car.

Instead -- in the belief that doing so better serves the good of both industry as a whole and of the consumer -- FRAND patents are treated as commodities while design patents are treated as luxuries.

Look at it this way: Using your argument then, by analogy, food and water should be expensive and a Gucci suit should be cheap, since one is a necessity and the other is "frivolous tat".

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Pirate

Re: Absurd and farcical

For the 100th time, I wish Reg readers would quit spouting nonsense like yours.

The "patents for actual useful technology" that are covered by FRAND are covered by FRAND because the company that owns the patent VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED IT TO BE PART OF A STANDARD!! Please read that 10 times so maybe it will sink into your feeble excuse for a brain.

No one can take your patent and make it FRAND against your will. You do so by your own choice, knowing that 1) it will get used by a lot more people and 2) you will lose the ability to be discriminatory in charging for it and lose the ability to charge whatever the hell you feel like for it. You may perhaps also hope to derive some advantage over those licensing your patent on FRAND terms because while the patent itself is public knowledge, there may be some related information you as the inventor learned while developing it that could give you an advantage over those who merely read and apply your patent.

Patents that are not FRAND, whether they are trivial design patents or patents for something truly useful like anti-gravity, allow the patent holder to be as arbitrary as they want about who gets to use it and how much they have to pay, or to decide to not let anyone use it if that's their choice. The whole purpose of patents, after all, is to grant the owner a time limited monopoly over the subject of their patent. However, the second you take one of those patents and submit it to be part of a rounded corner standard or an anti-gravity mobile standard, it becomes FRAND and you MUST license it under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. If you think that's a shitty deal, keep your patent to yourself and watch the standards body design around your patent and you likely end up with squat.

Now read this whole post again 10 times, in the hope people don't have to keep explaining this to you and all the morons who up-voted you.

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Microsoft and Apple to

Samsung, Moto/Google: "Don't you dare to mess with us! Or you'll deal with our bitches!" Here comes Ericsson ....

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Re: Microsoft and Apple to

Maybe. Doesn't matter even if it's true. I keep telling Apple haters that you won't like the world you live in if Motorola/Google succeeds in blocking Apple and Microsoft products unless they submit to licensing terms that are nothing like what anyone else pays them for the same patents.

If they succeed, patent trolls who produce no products except for lawsuits will buy up FRAND patents from bankrupt firms and pay Qualcomm and anyone else who has licensed their patents to break the licensing deals, then go to the users of those chips - Apple, Microsoft AND Motorola and Samsung, and sue to stop the import of all their devices unless they agree to extortionate licensing terms that make what Motorola is asking almost seem reasonable by comparison.

Whether Ericsson is helping Apple and/or Microsoft or acting on their own is irrelevant, because the fact remains that companies can't argue to one court that FRAND patents can't be used as a blunt tool and in another court that they can. This will make them have to pick a side, and if the fanboys get their way hoping to see iPhone pulled from the market, they'll see the Galaxys and Droids get pulled soon after.

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WTF?

Re: Patent abuse

What "attack" is happening in this case? Samsung agreed payments terms for licenses for the patents in 2001 and 2007 and is now refusing to pay, despite others being offered and accepting the same terms offered to Samsung.

IANAL but I really don't think import bans for FRAND patents should be allowed unless it is the absolute final option to force a settlement. After all, if you're forced to license a patent then any loss you suffer by someone using but not licensing that patent can be made good by fines. Import bans are supposed to be a weapon to prevent irreparable harm and if you have to license something then the only loss you suffer is financial and is thus not irreparable.

Ericsson has tried to negotiate terms for almost 2 years and still can't reach agreement. I'd say that 2 years is a reasonable show of good faith negotiating and it's time for Samsung to have some legal pressure applied.

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Anonymous Coward

Whilst at the same time over in Seatlle...

The Judge in the Microsoft/Motorola bitch fest bans Injunctions for Motorola's RAND Patents..

So Samsung can simply use that decision in an appeal.. or complain that the judicial system is failing.

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Anonymous Coward

Extend FRAND

Perhaps patents that are standards-essential need to be licensed in a Fair, Reasonable, PUBLIC, and Non-discriminatory way? Let the standards body be responsible for setting the price of the license(s) and reviewing them every so often (5 years?)

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Re: Extend FRAND

I think that'd be too slow to respond to market changes and too easy to game. Plus I don't expect standards bodies to be independent, since most of them are stuff full of the companies with the most patents in the first place.

No, there needs to be some supply/demand dynamics here. The more popular a patent is, the less it pays, a bit like mass market products - as volumes go up, costs per unit come down (in general, unless there is under supply). Ericsson expecting the same royalty for (e.g.) 3G tech these days is stupid - it cost them $x to "invent" the patented technology, and if the licensees are selling 100x today than when the patent first launched then the costs should naturally come down. Which also creates an incentive for new inventions as they can't just invent a widget, patent it and retire.

However, I absolutely agree that the FRAND agreements need to be public. I'd almost want to say that they can be private until they are used in a lawsuit and then the patent holder has to prove that all the other licensees are paying $x so company Y should also pay $x. If they're being fair there is nothing to be scared of. if they are being greedy with some companies and they call their bluff, they lose.

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Re: Extend FRAND

The simple solution would be for companies to be required to make the pricing of their patents public at the time they are submitted for inclusion in the standard, with no changes permitted later - unless lowering the price, as some may do in the hope of helping spur adoption of a standard people think is too expensive. Apple did exactly that with licensing for Firewire/1394, which they originally licensed for $1/port but PC makers weren't including it because they felt it was too expensive.

Publishing them publicly is the only way license rates can truly be proven to be Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory.

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WTF?

Reduce the effectivity of Paents to ...

fifteen months at which time they should be expired.

Electronics moves too fast for a patent to be worth that much anyway.

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