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back to article Apple wins Samsung import ban, loses 'Battle of Rounded Corners II'

The US International Trade Commission has issued a decision in the long-running Apple-Samsung patent wars that – barring a veto by the Obama administration – bars some geriatric Samsung kit from importation into the US, but denies Apple the protection it sought in other infringment allegations, including two design patents …

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Facepalm

Translucent images on a computer display

They got a patent on blurring semi-transparent UI elements?

Jesus tittyfucking christ.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Translucent images on a computer display

Judging a patent by its title is actually *worse* than judging a book by the cover. The titles are always generic as hell, like "vehicle with 4 wheels". Look past the cover, and it's a different story.

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WTF?

The UI hasn't changed since 2008

And as we all know, Apple are merely copying the market leader for iOS7

So it's really interesting to see what Apples designers come up with when for the first time they actually do Think Different and don't copy someone else.

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Anonymous Coward

"Ancient" kit, or any kit that infringes the same patents...

Because ancient kit was at the centre of the case, it doesn't mean the ban wouldn't apply to new kit that infringes the same patents. If the latest kit is infringing (and it doesn't get vetoed) then the latest kit can be blocked too.

Samsung have got workarounds for these patents, and apparently they're selling kit with the workarounds. Quite what that kit is though, nobody seems to know. It might be the S4, or it might be some pile of junk. That'll be the interesting bit, finding out if they have a 'good' workaround, or one that cripples or disables some functionality.

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Re: "Ancient" kit, or any kit that infringes the same patents...

True but moot. Because the kit wasn't included in Apple's original suite, they'll have to go to court again to prove it.

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I wonder

I wonder if Obama is going to overturn this chicken shit patent issue like the chicken shit patent issue that Samsung. Or is he going to make the declaration the Apple is the only smart phone that Americans can have

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Obama timing so so imperfect

I was the anonymous coward who mentioned the winning plot of the Apple ban.

saying "I suspect this is done to make any coming protectionist Samsung ban appear fair play.

The timing is so so suspect."

You could see tit for tat judgements coming.They simply do not act alone in these crazy Apple wars.

You fucked up Obama.

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Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

No - the timing was perfect. The US has always spouted 'Free trade rules' while being as protectionist as possible.

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Meh

Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

as protectionist as possible."

I don't see what's "protectionist" in favouring the importation of Far Eastern goods into the USA by two different companies both of whom keep most of their profits outside of the USA.

It'd be interesting to calculate the total net worth of both Samsung and Apple to the US economy.

Apple might have a a huge impact on the tablet/mp3 player market, but Samsung have more impact than Apple on the DVD/BD player and TV, markets, and that's not even starting on the markets for RAM and other chippery or shipbuilding, insurance and so on.

If Samsung ever decide to build a doughnut/spaceship HQ, they could just about do the entire job in-house. About the only market they don't seem to be in in raw materials mining, although they do supply some of the heavy engineering for that.

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Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

not just TV and DVD/BR, there also have quite the foothold in refrigeration, air conditioning and all sorts..

Samsung has a fair footprint in many, many markets. Not that apple would be bothered about any markets they don't have their paws personally in.

However i am just extending your point about Samsungs markets.... which are vast and varied bud

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

Imported from China?

Surely they're imported from Ireland, which is why Apple pay negligible tax and also why they have so few employees (considering their size) in the USA - the bulk of whome of whom are the drones that work in their stores.

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Trollface

Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

"If Samsung ever decide to build a doughnut/spaceship HQ, they could just about do the entire job in-house. About the only market they don't seem to be in in raw materials mining, although they do supply some of the heavy engineering for that."

Give a few weeks, we might still see a headline yet that reads 'Fruity Apple adopts a pet, buys CAT.'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obama timing so so imperfect

Vast, varied and low profit margin. Look at what percentage of profits are made by the mobile division at Samsung.

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Foss is having an orgasm on this one.

From the bbc new report "The noose is tightening. Apple step by step actually is gaining leverage against Samsung.Florian Mueller Foss Patents"

That Sick old Pant certainly likes his paid shrills.

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Anonymous Coward

Its getting worse and worse. Until the patent laws around the world are changed, this will go on and on and on. And who really loses? The punter. The real winners are the lawyers. At the end of the day its all bollocks and money.

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Anonymous Coward

Samsung & Motorola are both ...

trying on the same tactic again and again and so far losing.

Owners of FRAND encumbered SEPs are prohibited from doing exactly what Samsung and Moto have been trying to do. Obama made the right choice (maybe for the wrong reasons I do not know) in this case.

If Moto and Samsung successfully derail the FRAND model for SEP patents, we will truly be in a difficult position with respect to interoperability - but please note - that is what "they" want. Being able to divide the world "geographically" and sell incompatible products to each market is a fabulously profitable strategy and they want that option back!

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Get the facts right

Motorola has standards essential patents. Microsoft wanted to implement the standard, so they are required to enter good faith negotiations with Motorola. Instead, they wilfully infringed. Motorola complained, and tried to negotiate with Microsoft - as is required for patents essential for this standard. Microsoft did not negotiate, and continued to infringe. Motorola won an injunction in Germany against Microsoft. Microsoft complained in the US about breach of contract. There is no relevant contract between Microsoft and Motorola, so the complaint is not valid under US law. The US judge is not an expert on standards, patents, or German law, so he ruled that Motorola could not enforce the injunction ordered by the German court. Microsoft then actually did what they were required to do: they made an offer to license Motorola's patents.

Motorola accepted Microsoft's offer. Microsoft cannot tolerate such mean and spiteful behaviour. Microsoft still have not paid license fees and they insist the Motorola pays Microsoft's costs for moving manufacturing from Germany to the Netherlands after the German injunction had been blocked.

Now please explain how Microsoft refusing to accept an offer that they made themselves when there wasn't even the possibility of the threat of an injunction is Motorola's fault.

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WTF?

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

Don't be so stupid...

You REALLY think Moto & sammy want to have to produce DIFFERENT products for each region? massively increasing their R&D budget for no real gain?

Sure they already produce region specific products but they are never top of the line products...

And really if you think about it, who cares what america does? China & Europe are a much bigger pot to deal with, and they so far always seem to see sense with patents.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

If Apple didn't licence or refuse to even negotiate those FRAND patents, what else can the FRAND patent owners do apart from seek a ban?

It seems to me that FRAND patents are being treated by courts, in the US and elsewhere, as less powerful, less enforceable and thus less valuable than otherwise obvious 'inventions' (e.g. multi touch) of dubious originality/patentability

Disclaimer, I built a multi touch keyboard scanning routine on a 4 bit micro more than 25years ago... there's nothing worth a patent in it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

What a load of bollocks.

SEP holders commit to good faith negotiations, they are not required and do not surrender the right to get injunctions.

Neither Apple nor Microsoft ( with Motorola ) have entered the negotiations and have gone crying to the courts in an attempt to overturn 30 years of industry precedent.

Microsoft have already lost in Germany on this point and is crying in Seattle to try and get a US court to override a jurisdiction that the US has no hold over.

Apple are in clear and wilful breach of Samsungs SEPs and the ITC said so.

You really do have to go and read Groklaw, all the filings and rulings are available there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

> what else can the FRAND patent owners do apart from seek a ban?

Sue them in court to set a royalty rate and damages for past infringement. A ban should only be need when the infringing party is located in a jurisdiction that does not provide such means, or when the infringing party refuses to pay a court-ordered royalty.

> It seems to me that FRAND patents are being treated by courts, in the US and elsewhere, as less powerful, less enforceable and thus less valuable

That is true because a FRAND commitment to a Standard Setting Organization is a promise to give up the ability to use a patent for exclusion in exchange for guaranteed monetary compensation.

In addition to my "day job", I have sat on standard setting committees for most of my career, and currently sit on a VITA committee. We are asked to declare any patents or patent applications relevant to the standard we are drafting at the beginning of every weekly meeting. There are processes in place to handle the inclusion of patents in our standards, and we take the FRAND commitment very seriously.

Also, just because some "technology" makes it into a standard does not mean the technology is all that special. Many of the patented technologies incorporated in a standard are mediocre, and the only reason they have commercial value is because we chose to include them in the standard to ensure interoperability. The standard as a whole is what has significant commercial value; being able to a get a modest royalty for your little contribution to the standard is a nice perk to encourage participation.

> Disclaimer, I built a multi touch keyboard scanning routine on a 4 bit micro more than 25years ago... there's nothing worth a patent in it.

Multi-touch detection on a capacitance touch screen with elliptical curve-fitting to detect the center of each finger is more complicated than multi-touch keyboard scanning. Is it patent worthy? The USPTO thought so initially, but we will have to see how it fairs under harsh scrutiny on re-examination. There are a lot of companies interested in over-turning this patent, so they will put a lot of effort in trying to discover prior art. If the technology is truly "novel", it will survive re-examination. If it is "obvious", then it will be invalidated.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

> SEP holders commit to good faith negotiations, they are not required and do not surrender the right to get injunctions.

It probably depends on each Standard Setting Organization, but the sub-committees I have served on do require you to give up your right to exclude in exchange for guaranteed monetary compensation.

The FRAND pledge is very important because standards are set by major competitors in a given market colluding to define requirements for their equipment to work together, which will exclude those who do not or cannot participate. If we do not give up our right to legally exclude other parties, we would be committing anti-trust violations.

> Neither Apple nor Microsoft ( with Motorola ) have entered the negotiations and have gone crying to the courts in an attempt to overturn 30 years of industry precedent.

Not true, both started negotiations, but in each case, the parties reached an impasse and called off negotiations. There is nothing improper about asking the courts to settle licensing disagreements between two companies.

> Microsoft have already lost in Germany on this point and is crying in Seattle to try and get a US court to override a jurisdiction that the US has no hold over.

Motorola and Microsoft are US companies, and Motorola demanded a world-wide license agreement. When negotiations failed, Microsoft started its lawsuit in a US court to set a world-wide rate, per Motorola demands. Motorola did not want a US court setting a world-wide rate, so months after hearings started in the US, Motorola sued Microsoft in Germany, hoping to get a quick injunction that would force a settlement before the US courts could rule. Microsoft felt Motorola was trying to end-run-around the US case and asked the US court to enjoin Motorola from enforcing any German import ban. The US court agreed that their case had world-wide scope and granted the injunction.

> Apple are in clear and wilful breach of Samsungs SEPs and the ITC said so.

Apple is most certainly not in the clear. There is a parallel case currently going through the federal courts over the same SEPs. If the SEPs are valid and infringed, then Apple will pay a royalty for future use and damages for past infringement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get the facts right

> There is no relevant contract between Microsoft and Motorola, so the complaint is not valid under US law.

The US courts disagree with you. Motorola and Microsoft are both US-based companies and Motorola demanded a world-wide license agreement for its SEPs as one US company to another. The US District court believes this gives them legal authority to resolve the licensing issue world-wide, although Motorola is free to appeal that decision all the way to the Supreme Court.

> Microsoft then actually did what they were required to do: they made an offer to license Motorola's patents.

Apple was required to make similar Orange-Book Standard offer to Motorola, and the EU courts have told the Germany courts that an Orange-Book Standard offer under the treat of injunction over a SEP is invalid. I do not know how that EU decision would not also apply in the Microsoft-Motorola case.

> Motorola accepted Microsoft's offer.

Per the Orange-Book Standard, Motorola is obligated to accept the offer if the German courts feel it is acceptable. If Motorola refused the offer, the German courts would have gone after Motorola for anti-competitive behavior.

> Microsoft still have not paid license fees

The US courts have now set a world-wide royalty rate per Motorola's demands to Microsoft. Microsoft has tried to make payments, but Motorola literally refuses to accept the checks. Motorola is welcome to appeal the world-wide royalty rate decision on whatever grounds it chooses, but until an appeals court overturns that decision, it is legally binding even over the German proceedings.

> [Microsoft] insist the Motorola pays Microsoft's costs for moving manufacturing from Germany to the Netherlands

Microsoft has presented the preemptive moving costs of its distribution centers from Germany as evidence that it has suffered harm by Motorola's actions, but I do not believe they are asking for compensation. Since Microsoft chose to move their distribution center of their own according, it would be hard to win compensation unless a regulatory authority finds that Motorola has act anti-competitively in its pursuit of injunctions over SEPs.

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Re: Get the facts right

You seem to think that US courts have world-wide jurisdiction. They don't. Regardless of whether a company is in the USA or not.

If a German court orders something, their order is valid in Germany (and by extension, the EU now depending on the court). A US court cannot order a company to ignore another country's orders - to do so would violate various international treaties governing jurisdiction.

If Motorola have licensed their patents to overseas subsidiaries to handle the royalties in those jurisdictions - and therefore, licensing them to 3rd parties then falls within those jurisdictions, the US courts would have to nullify those contracts also - which in itself would then be a long court case on its own and wouldn't actually have any basis in law that I could see.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

You obviously don't get out much.

I would suggest you try and buy some random spare parts for any random car model sold in 10 different markets. You will find, that almost nothing fits cross market. The screws are offset a mm here or there. The shape is slightly modified so as not to fit the already completely different bracket etc. etc. There are enough spare parts that are different to all but eliminate the grey market between markets.

There is a massive incentive to geographically segment the market and your lack of imagination and shall I say ignorance of the matter does not change this at all.

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Re: Samsung & Motorola are both ...

If you have prior art then FFS submit it as such.

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I believe that ITC decisions can be appealed to the Federal courts so it may not be over on that front. Also as others have said the listed devices are examples and other infringing devices may also be banned although I don't know the process for deciding disputes about whether any workarounds are sufficient to avoid the ban. I suspect El Reg's journalists work on this case is far from over whatever the ITC says about finality.

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Anonymous Coward

Correct, ITC decisions can be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeals. Apple was poised to request an emergency stay of the injunction had the President not vetoed the ITC's decision on SEP policy grounds.

I am sure Samsung will also appeal, although, since Samsung acknowledges that they have already designed workarounds, I suspect an appeal less likely to succeed.

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Patent 7912501 has got to be ripe for prior art or obviousness. I have gone through it and it seems to me a very long winded way of saying that it detected whether the jack is a 3 or 4 pin with appropriate components on the end by using impedance detection circuitry and/or using pull up/down resistors to produce hi/low signals. It then goes on an on and on about various other methods but it is all basically doing it the same way........all of which are blindingly obvious to anyone who has designed detection circuitry. I personally designed a circuit to detect whether two different types of antenna were being plugged into an transmitter by determining the impedance or a high resistance resistor in circuit.

It seems that Apple are using the 'patent every bit of the design and ignore prior art or obviousness' method of patenting. Basically throwing mud at the wall and see what sticks. Considering the state of the Patent Office, it seems that all the mud sticks.

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Anonymous Coward

"It seems that Apple are using the 'patent every bit of the design and ignore prior art or obviousness' method of patenting."

Aided by an extremely silly patent office, where it seems you simply have to be able to breathe in order to qualify for a job (no requirement for being to identify genuine invention, for example, and certainly no requirement to know what "prior art" means, or be capable of even the most cursory investigation etc)

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Anonymous Coward

> Aided by an extremely silly patent office, where it seems you simply have to be able to breathe in order to qualify for a job

There are around 5 million engineers in just the US alone, so there are probably tens of millions of engineers, scientists, and inventors world-wide thinking up crazy ideas across thousands of different fields every day. It would be impossible to have a staff with enough expertise to determine originality in every field of human knowledge keeping up with tens of millions of people creating ideas.

Patents exist to exclude others from using your exact idea, while encouraging others to come up with better ideas. This suggests that at least early parts of the approval process need to stay hidden to protect the idea before it has been afforded legal protection. I could see, though, before final approval of a patent, a public comment phase that allows review by peers versed in their particular field.

In practice, though, I am not sure how this would be any different than today. Effectively, the current process is opaque, and once an idea passes an initial check, it is afforded legal protection (i.e. approved) and made fully public. At that time, anyone in the public may request re-examination and provide as much prior art as they can to prove that the idea is invalid.

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"Patents exist to exclude others from using your exact idea"

This is a modern day understanding, or perhaps a misunderstanding. Not what the founders had in mind.

Abstract ideas are still not eligible.

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Bored Now.

Another week, another 'Apple desparate in court' headline. How about they do something new?

Even their adverts are boring and don't mention apple, they say 'built in California' and 'people take photos'.

Let Apple have the US and their petty pointless courts and legal sh*te, so the rest of world can get on with the progress of technology.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bored Now.

"Let Apple have the US and their petty pointless courts and legal sh*te, so the rest of world can get on with the progress of technology."

although it would be much funnier if the whole world said that an official granting such a silly patent can be held personally liable for any losses or legal costs incurred by anybody because of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bored Now.

America seems to not respect the legal systems in the rest of the world, or other countries sovereignty,

I suggest every time they throw their weight around, the rest of the world imposes sanctions...

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Trade war

This is now nothing more than an American trade war. Ban of the iphone in South Korea next?

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Re: Trade war

A Korean ban on component exports to America would be more effective.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

And the Americans could withdraw their armed forces and defence systems :o

South Korea needs the US more than the US needs them (It costs the US a lot of money to keep the status quo).

Countries like Japan and Germany that do not have to have a defence budget are able to pour far more money back into their economies, if South Korea had to pay for its defence it would very quickly go bust (especially if it could not export to the US).

North Korea is in such a mess because it spends everything on its military and nothing on its economy (plus has nutty leaders) without the US propping up South Korea they'd be in the same situation.

US companies like Microsoft, Apple...etc are slowly moving their manufacturing out of south east asia to south America and even the US (as wages have fallen).

The US is still the biggest economy in the world and now that it is again self sufficient in energy (due to fracking) it is growing even stronger. All economies in South east Asia and the EU are not self sufficient in energy which is a very big Achilles heel, so when economic activity drops they are in real trouble as they have to pay for their energy.

Remember when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold (I'm not American I've studied economics).

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Re: Trade war

I thought in the past that US involvement in South Korea was partly based on two principles.

1 - that it was a buffer zone between North Korea and Japan and other US interests in Asia/Pacific.

2 - Not to give up ground that US servicemen had died fighting for.

now if the US did pull out of Korea what would they do with those troops, warships etc? Disband and cut the budget? Would it parallels the British "east of Suez" withdrawal?

random thoughts mostly while stuck at a car boot.

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Re: Trade war

"random thoughts mostly while stuck at a car boot."

I originally read that as "random thoughts mostly while stuck in a car boot" and thought you were being awfully calm about your situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

Having read extensively about what goes on in North Korea by people that slip in and out of that country, don't kid yourself that without American forces there, South Korea would be a sitting duck. Even North Korean soldiers have said that their first shot in a war would be into their commanding officer's head! They routinely die of starvation and are fed abundant cheap alcohol in a way somewhat reminiscent of Orwell's 1984.

US companies would sh1t a brick without China.

Is the US REALLY self sufficient for energy? They'll be cancelling all those orders from the middle-east then?

You might have studied economics, doesn't make you an authority. Try REALITY.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

Why dig out your resources when you can save them and buy the oil for the same price/cheaper from someone else?

The US has sat on their oil when others deplete their supplies.

The Saudis are having kittens at the moment as they've woken up to the fact that the US can produce the same as they can and OPEC for the first time since i was a kid have lost control of the oil price.

Whole fields in the north sea that were 5 years ago considered spent are now producing more oil and gas than they did at maximum production.

Throughout history when something becomes expensive people find a way of getting it cheaper it is what is so amazing about humans :)

Technology keeps transforming the world, what we had when I was a kid in the sixties and seventies may as well have been the 1940's. The microprocessor has transformed our lives :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

'The US is still the biggest economy in the world '

Sources?

The EU is a far bigger economic region with more clout than the US.

The US doesn't own anything - it has more debt than any other nation and is growing by the second

Military might? All China has to do is call in its loans and America is bankrupt.

"Thousands of years ago the old empire had enforced the Pax Morporkia, which had said to the world: 'Do not fight or we will kill you.' The Pax had arisen again, but this time it said: 'If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally, that's my pike you're pointing at me. I paid for that shield you're holding. And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little debtor.'" ~Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

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Holmes

Re: "random thoughts mostly while stuck in a car boot"

He has made us aware of his plight and is passing the time posting comments on El Reg until one of us alerts the authorities. One of us has alerted the authorities, haven't we???

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

If I owe you a pound, I have a problem;

but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.

John Maynard Keynes

Same for China (that's why it complains so much when the US does quantitative easing as their debts are in dollars).

Have you been to Ireland, Spain or Greece recently? In Greece they can't even afford to buy basic medicine!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trade war

Yes, the US is easily able to be self sufficient in energy.

That is not the same as they have decided to exercise that option.

It is clearly in the US best interests both strategically and economically to leave a considerable amount of energy "in the ground" and deplete the middle eastern supplies. Remember what OPEC and Saudi Arabia did in the 70s? I for one will be glad to see them get a comeuppance.

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@ graeme leggett

If there was even a germ of truth in point #2, Brits would be speaking 'Merkin English instead of British English, and so would everybody else in Europe. Not to mention a good chunk of Asia and Africa.

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Anonymous Coward

Patents are sounding more like political issues every day. Between Samsung and Apple, I bet you can guess their political persuasion.

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Re: more like political issues every day.

When politics rules everything, everything becomes politicized.

I'd guess you can't, because that reads like a statement from a political illiterate. I might make a reasonable stab at it, but I wouldn't bet the cost of pint at the pub on my guess. But here's a hint: Stalin and Trotsky were politically closer than Stalin and Churchill. Make note of whom Stalin sent the assassination team after.

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