back to article A $17.3bn fine, you say? Samsung begs for five-year patent war truce

The European Commission has asked for comments on a proposed deal with Samsung that would see the South Koreans pledging not to take patent lawsuits to court for five years in exchange for avoiding a massive fine. Europe's antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in September that he had received Samsung's plan to escape a $ …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something wrong with this

Samsung seem to be making Apple look whiter than white these days.

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Full 17bn Please

Hit them where it hurts. Too late now to start pleading any sort of disposition. What is the point of a threat of fines if it's never enforced?

Once they've come up with 17bn in cash, they sure as hell won't pull that shit again. And it might put Moto/Google on a bit of notice as well.

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Just curious ...

How much did Apple pay to license these patents?

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Re: Just curious ...

Actually let's face it, we need the cash here in Europe, so let's just take that. If Apple wants to hand some in too that's cool; we're not fussy who gives us the cash.

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Re: Full 17bn Please

Couple of comments:

1. That's a legal maximum, the actual fine levied would likely be nowhere near that level

2. The aim of the commission, and the various laws around it, is to make the market work smoothly. The fine is a final end-game punishment, but won't make the market work any better. If, under threat of a fine, they can make things better for everyone (companies and consumers), then that is a better outcome.

3. "Flog 'em" brigade please go this way => dailymail.co.uk

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IT Angle

Re: Full 17bn Please

Hit them where it hurts. Too late now to start pleading any sort of disposition. What is the point of a threat of fines if it's never enforced?

The point of a threat of fines is to persuade someone to change their behaviour. If you simply want the money you you don't threaten you just fine.

Just as Samsung used the threat of a ban on their competitors products to try to get those competitors to pay to license Samsung's technology patents.

The issue here is complicated: Samsung have some patents that are core to the technologies that everyone needs to use in order to communicate with each other. Other vendors need to use those technologies, and so must licence them from Samsung. So far, the other parties have either been refusing to pay for a licence or have been refusing to pay the price (which may or may not have been reasonable) set by Samsug. This way they have at least to negotiate, and there is the promise of a price being set by an independent arbitrator if agreement still can't be reached.

If it goes to arbitration Samsung will at least get paid for the use of their patents -- maybe not as much as they'd like, but something -- so this can be seen as a win for Samsung.

At the end of the day, though, this is the broken patent system enabling lawyers to milk technology companies, and not about technology itself.

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Anonymous Coward

One thing that is troubling about the proposal is that if the parties do not both agree to go to court, the proposal requires them to go to arbitration. Arbitration does not provide the means to dispute the validity of a patent or the patent's essentiality to a standard, as can be done in a court of law.

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@AC - Validity

Arbitration provides exactly the same ability to question the validity of a patent. Even the highest court in the land cannot overturn the validity of a patent - that is purely for the patent office.

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Thumb Down

Sad Situation

It doesn't really matter whether it is Google, Apple or Samsung, I feel that we have arrived at a sad state of affairs whereby any company or any commission has to create or deal with such situations.

These large companies are becoming far too powerful for anyone’s good. I honestly can't think of any good reasons for companies being allowing gaining such power/wealth. (The banks are the first to blame for this catastrophe).

They have taken the ideals of capitalism to the upper limits and are starting to push beyond... collapse is the obvious next stage.......

Companies should exist for people, not the other way round...

------>>>>>> Thumbs down for the sickening corporate attitudes.

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WTF?

Re: Sad Situation

"Companies should exist for people, not the other way round..."

Spoken like a person who has NEVER built a company from the ground up.

It's easy to throw these kinds of comments around freely when YOU haven't done anything on you own.

You need to either read the book "Atlas Shrugged" or watch the movies to get a clue.

No one invests in companies that lose money. If you have a retirement account....your money IS invested in companies that are profitable. If you're relying on the government to support you in your old age...well then your just a fool IMO.

People really need to get a clue IMO.

Nothing of value is ever free in life. Anyone who is willing to work hard, should reap the rewards of their labor. Not the lazy POS watching from the side and giving opinions on how to do things.

~Best wishes keeping what YOU earned.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sad Situation

"You need to either read the book "Atlas Shrugged" or watch the movies to get a clue."

I would like to but nobody has offered me enough money to read that trash. I guess they expected me to do it for them for free.

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WTF?

You need to either read the book "Atlas Shrugged" or watch the movies to get a clue.

Sound like somebody needs to get a clue. Just a tip: reading one book or wasting your time in the movies won't give it to you.

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FAIL

Re: Sad Situation

@Got thumbs (not so sure on that but .. ) I've built two (not very large, I admit) companies from the ground up and I concur with the OP's sentiment.

As for Ayn Rand - you do know Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy novel don't you ?

If you honestly believe enterprises work the way she describes then you probably think vampires are real because, you know, Twilight.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sad Situation

" If you have a retirement account....your money IS invested in companies that are profitable. If you're relying on the government to support you in your old age...well then your just a fool IMO.".

Is this really true, that if the company you worked for goes tits up, you loose your retirement money, is it indeed true only in the USA. Wonder if there is even one country in Europe where this could happen, we call it social security.

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Flame

Re: Sad Situation

"Companies should exist for people, not the other way round...". Yes, that is rubbish even in a communist state I think. Companies have never declared any obligation in that direction, nor has anybody demanded it. It is the state and the government that should exist for the people. Sometimes I think too many of you Americans are rather mixed up.

Seen from an European view it is getting more and more funny, disturbing or what ever. For many years we where able to see how people in those East European countries, step by step, where able to beat their oppressive governments. Even the Russians said, this is shit, lets change it. Luckily for all of us no help introducing democracy by the Americans was needed. And now, meanwhile, we are looking at the American people loosing their freedom, their civil rights, inch by inch, perhaps not by the governments but by the forces running the governments. Please wake up, not only for your own sake, but for our sake too.

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Mushroom

Re: Sad Situation

> Spoken like a person who has NEVER built a company from the ground up.

99% of CEOs are no different really. They are all just a bunch of MBAs acting as caretaker's for someone else's creation. Most of the time they can't even get that right. The lot of them probably couldn't build a successful lemonade stand on their own.

Don't confuse executive equivalent of janitors with real capitalists.

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Re: Sad Situation

@You need to either read the book "Atlas Shrugged" or watch the movies to get a clue.

I read Atlas Shrugged many years ago and Ayn Rand made a fine job of describing various philiosophical conditions although I really don't see how they relate to my post. As someone mentioned above, Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy novel which has nothing to do with factories or workers. Ayn Rand is a philospopher, she writes about the human condition. The characters and situations are purely allegorical....

>No one invests in companies that lose money. If you have a retirement account....your money IS invested in companies that are profitable. If you're relying on the government to support you in your old age...well then your just a fool IMO.

I think you will find that in the present/near future investing in companies will turn out to be far more dangerous than simply learning how to live for oneself.. Recwent event have shown us that your retirement account is no longer safe nor garaunteed.

>Nothing of value is ever free in life. Anyone who is willing to work hard, should reap the rewards of their labor. Not the lazy POS watching from the side and giving opinions on how to do things.

Most people that work in companies actually work very well. There will always be one ot two that are difficult but that can't be avoided. It's called being human, unless of course you know about a factory that is 100% lazy people.... Care to cite some examples...

And pray tell me how do you know what I have or have not done in my life. I think you would be very surprised but let's leave that for another day...

>Nothing of value is ever free in life. Anyone who is willing to work hard, should reap the rewards of their labor. Not the lazy POS watching from the side and giving opinions on how to do things.

I completely agree and I do not believe that I said anything to the contrary.

>Best wishes keeping what YOU earned

What I have earned as an Employer or as an Employee changes nothing about the fact that I had to work hard at both.... You appear to have fallen into the syndrome that Employers work harder than employees....

They don't they simply have different objectives...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sad Situation

You did not just quote that pile of dogs drivel did you ?

You know she ended up on welfare / benefits dont you ?

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Silver badge

Re: If you're relying on the government to support you in your old age...

Ayn Rand collected social security benefits from 1974 to her death in March 1982. Her husband was also on welfare from December 1974 to his death in November 1979.

If you're looking for an inspirational writer, you might want to find one who's not a lying hypocrite

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Re: Sad Situation

"Companies should exist for people, not the other way round..."

That is actually a true statement, what is missing from it are WHICH people the company exists for. Answer is (1) the shareholders and senior execs*. Number 2 are clients (and only because it's their money that keeps the business going). A very distant 3 is employees. The general public, in spite of all claims of "social corporate responsibility" by the company is a 4 so distant you need a telescope to see. In fact, any company trumpeting it's "CSR" is doing so as 'soft' marketing.

As a member of the general public, companies do not care about you

*strictly the senior execs shouldn't be any different from any employee but in reality they use their clout within the company to get a lot more perks, plus they are often shareholders anyway.

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Re: Sad Situation

Are you American?

Nothing of value is ever free in life. Anyone who is willing to work hard, should reap the rewards of their labor. Not the lazy POS watching from the side and giving opinions on how to do things.

Consider the fucking lillies in the field... A Quote - although, I don't actually disagree with you, work hard & get rewarded, unfortunately in our present economic climate, those that do (or want to) work hard are generally the ones getting shafted whilst the tricksters and shysters running companies & banks (and Hollywood) are getting all the rewards - it's not the pretty girl behind the counter at your favourite bank that's pulling down a billion a year, she's the one likely to be laid off at the first sign of trouble.

You need to either read the book "Atlas Shrugged" or watch the movies to get a clue.

You need to watch / play any distopian film / game where corporations are in charge. It's not pretty - eg. Weyland Yutani.

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Legal Protections

Although I find 98.99% of patent lawsuits stupid, wasteful and generally a poor use of resources, I don't like the idea of losing/trading legal rights in lieu of a fine.

Legal rights should be inviolate, something is a right or it isn't. You may have certain rights temporarily suspended as part of a punishment, but the idea of losing rights instead of paying a fine is simply a terrible idea. Rights aren't for sale.

I say Samsung pays the fine. Pony up the cash guys, you're busted. That's the way it works. Putting a cash value on rights is bad.

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Re: Legal Protections

Does that apply to Apple as well? After all they seem to be the ones that cause the patent spats by not paying for what they want.

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I've lost track of what the patents were and whether Samsung actually tried to negotiate a fair price for their use.

The irony is that non-essential and essentially useless patents on things like square corners and central round single buttons become more important than patents which come about do to genuine innovation like UMS and LTE.

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Silver badge

I agree with you, I think Apple should be fined for trying to get Competitors products banned on patents that were overturned!

And as for SEP, it should be negotiate, if negotiations fail, arbitrate, but the patents should be upheld

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Anonymous Coward

The irony is that non-essential and essentially useless patents on things like square corners and central round single buttons become more important than patents which come about do to genuine innovation like UMS and LTE.

The real irony is that when Samsung (or a.n other tech company) next develop some ground breaking technology they'll be more reluctant to put it into a FRAND pool, and so the entire point of this action is negated, because long term it will result in lots of different equipment whch doesn't conform to a 'standard'.

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Anonymous Coward

Disagree with that. Your piece of "ground breaking technology" may just be another bit of the same, getting it widely adopted is a definite plus even if the royalties are then governed by some requirement to be reasonable. And if it is truly awesomely great, why would you need to share it, your products will rock and you will dominate the market.

I suggest that FRAND is a good concept, and once you enter into such a deal, trying to extort unreasonable royalties is indeed an act in very bad faith.

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Devil

It wasn't a lie, it was salesmanship.

The problem is that you have to define "reasonable". I am sure that there are plenty of companies that don't want to pay what everyone else has. Trying to take advantage and get away with something is kind of how these people naturally operate. So corporations whining about unfairness need to be taken with a grain of salt.

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Anonymous Coward

Why even consult?

Just issue the fine. No deals. They shouldn't participate in these patents when they misbehave like that.

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Re: Why even consult?

$17 billion won't last two minutes in the hands of politicians and lawmakers. It's certainly unlikely to benefit "people", and it's unlikely to change patent abuse... at best this entire scenario will force companies to simply modify their tactics.

As much as it would be fun to see a company that lies pay, the 5 year deal is probably better for everyone: the industry and consumers alike.

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Prediction

So now what incentive is there for companies to put their patents into standards?

I predict that standard setting using the latest technology will grind to a halt.

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Re: Prediction

"what incentive is there for companies to put their patents into standards?"

Without wanting to sound idealistic, I'd say:

Plenty, if you're not greedy and honest.

Not as much if you're greedy and a bully.

Hmm, then again, what category do big public corps fall into?

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Re: Prediction

Precisely the incentive that was supposed to be there and agreed to when the company participated in the standards process in the first place. Turning around after the event, once the standards are set, and demanding extortionate fees, or refusing to license at all, is breaking the entire model of standards.

A company is free not to participate in a standard, in which case the standard will likely be set without their IP. At which point they can try to make what use of their IP they may wish, without it being part of the standard. However, if they want to reap the rewards of a much larger market, as tends to be established by a new standard, they have to play by the rules, and in joining the standard they agree not to gouge.

There is nothing new here, and no change in incentive about joining standards. Just an enforcing of well accepted and usually uncontentious rules.

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Re: Prediction

"There is nothing new here, and no change in incentive about joining standards. Just an enforcing of well accepted and usually uncontentious rules."

The news here is companies like Apple gaming the SEP system, and other companies reacting by not allowing their patents being used in standards.

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Slightly confused. They're doing this to avoid a $17bn fine, yet if they break the rules again within the five years then they'll be hit with a $17bn fine? (or whatever 10% is at the time).

Doesn't that just mean this is a delay tactic? Surely if you commit then break, you should pay *more* than the original fine?

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