back to article Apple slips bomb into ITC filing: Samsung being PROBED by US gov

The United States government is investigating whether Samsung is misusing the standards-essential patents that it holds, rival Apple said in a document it filed with the International Trade Commission on Monday. Samsung holds several standards-essential patents covering data transmission from mobile devices, which it is under …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We're about to lose rubberbanding.... we need another stick to beat Samsung with...."

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Apple suddenly concerned about the "public interest".

    I think that cracking came from a bullshitometer....

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Oy.

      Easy mistake to make. In Apple English, "public" is pronounced "self".

      Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear the sound of billy goats clip-clopping across my bridge...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your fair and reasonable is my unfair and unreasonable.

    It depends whose pockets you are lining.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    "Samsung’s assertion of declared-essential patents was incompatible with Samsung’s FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) commitments and the public interest."

    As if Apple are consumer champions.

    1. Armando 123

      Not that they've been perfect, of course, but would you rather trust your data to Microsoft, or Google (whose business model is to sell data about you to marketing people)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Armando 123 - Don't derail de discussion here.

        We all know Google is evil but please stick to the subject of this article. Be a responsible troll!

  5. LPF
    Thumb Down


    So is samsub being investigated by the US , EU and South Korea or what ? You can't use FRAND as a weapon, thats a No no

  6. nematoad Silver badge

    Double standards

    PJ on Groklaw has done a piece on the negotiations between Apple and Samsung over licensing:

    In it Apple is reported to have asked for $30 per phone and $40 per tablet, whereas Samsung had offered approximately $6 per unit, or 2.4% as the selling price for its licenses. This, Apple claim, is excessive and breaks the FRAND obligations of Samsung.

    So in Apple's mind asking for 5 times more for their patents than Samsung is asking for its is OK. Now it is well known that Apple exist in a reality distortion field but surely even they can see this mismatch.

    And yet, they seem to have bamboozled the ITC into acting as their hired guns in their campaign to destroy Android.

    With luck this will come back to haunt them in much the same way as SCO's attempted shakedown Linux did for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Double standards

      "So in Apple's mind asking for 5 times more for their patents than Samsung is asking for its is OK. Now it is well known that Apple exist in a reality distortion field but surely even they can see this mismatch."

      Ah yes, but Apple's patents are for truely useful things like bouncing lists and slide to unlock etc, whereas Samsung's patents are just pointless data communication stuff that nobody needs or cares about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Double standards

        Erm, that's the whole point. You can't do without the FRAND patents since the chips you are using for accessing 3G and 4G implement that patent and so there is no way around it unless you want to produce chips that break the standard and cause havoc on the network?

        Design elements like bouncing lists aren't essential and you can choose not to copy Apple on these. Windows Phone doesn't copy Apple's design, their lists stop and the elements compress a little to signify the end.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Double standards

      Apples patents are for stuff Samsung is free to leave out or use an alternative, and apple are free to charge what they want or refuse a license - they've never promised to give them to anyone at all.

      Samsungs patents are required for standard things like 3G, wifi and h264, and apple MUST implement them. Samsung promised to license them at fair, reasonable rates to anyone who needs them.

      If apple refuses to license we might lose rubber banding or something and apple gain some competitive advantage. If Samsung refuses their competitors *cant make phones at all* and they can effectively control the whole market.

      See the difference now? Luckily the regulators can :)

      1. pepper

        Re: Double standards

        As it may be, but what Samsung is asking doesnt seem unreasonable. Just that Apple thinks it is doesnt quite make it so.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Double standards

          I would imagine Apple have information on what others are being charged for the same patents and Samsung is probably charging Apple a different rate.

          The ND in FRAND means non-discriminatory, you can't charge a different rate just because you're a rival to someone.

          1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

            Re: Double standards

            > The ND in FRAND means non-discriminatory, you can't charge a different rate just because you're a rival to someone.

            As I understand things, Apple refused the license on the basis of "what everyone else had agreed to" and wanted to enter into their own negotiations. Then they couldn't agree a price.

            The 3G patent pool was originally only of interest to people who made phones, so they all contributed and they all used each other patents. Samsung's standard license included an agreement to cross licensing. Everyone else had signed this, Apple wouldn't. So that takes them outside the "non-discriminatory" clause, since they insisted on being discriminated.

            The problem was that Apple came into the game with nothing to offer the player already at the table, who had all shared. Then to make matters worse they tried to claim they didn't need no stinking licenses no siree, not me.

      2. Mark .

        Re: Double standards

        Whilst rubber-banding is indeed optional (and I hate - I want my list to stop scrolling, not carry on, so I'd be glad to keep it off my devices), this doesn't really apply to the other patent claims being thrown about. For example:

        * Rectangular device with rounded corners - whilst one can do away with rounded corners and have sharp corners that you cut yourself on, or perhaps make a phone shaped like a banana or a dodecahedron, this is still a major constraint on a very obvious and basic design shape, which they weren't first to do anyway.

        * Doubleclick to zoom - double click was not invented by Apple, and a touchscreen makes no different. Nor was zooming. I don't know if they were first with this particular method of zooming (either at all, or on a touchscreen), but it shouldn't be possible to get a patent on any action that's done by a doubleclick. I mean, if all programmers thought by Apple, we'd be filing for a patent everytime we implemented a UI action. One patent for every combination of [UI event] and [Application action] is a lot of patents, and would prevent large amounts of software being written! Whilst there are other ways to do zooming, removing the ability to do this fundamental thing via a fundamental action is crippling for the UI.

        And it's not like Apple are worried about making a phone that can't do something fundamental. They made a "smartphone" that couldn't run apps or do 3G. Wouldn't surprise me at all if they made an oversized phone that couldn't do phone calls - the Apple fans would still buy it, and the media would still hype it as the best thing ever and give it loads of one-sided free advertising, even before it was announced. Oh wait, that already happened.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Double standards

          Mark you are the dullest droidtard on here by some margin. the design thing is bollocks, because a) its not a patent and b) manufacturers were making non-rectangular curved phones way before this shape was being protected. So they could quite easily do without it.

          Unfortunately you seem incapable of distinguishing between patents required to make a phone and patents that can be worked around. The issue has always been that Samsung simply decided they could ignore patents they didnt want to pay for, and hoped they would win in court.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Double standards

            And Apple decided to just use the Samsung FRAND patents without paying and when Samsung asked for payment they refused and carried on anyway.... but apparently you think that's OK

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Double standards

              What a bunch of whining douchebags, do you all work for samsung? Or are you all retarded basemeant dwellers who can't work out the difference between a SEP and non-SEP, no wonder the west is in a recession.

              1. paul 97

                Re: Double standards

                do you work for apple? I bet you wish you did

          2. Rob Crawford

            Re: Double standards

            Are you an iTroll ?

          3. vic 4
            Thumb Down

            Re: Double standards

            AC 14:17

            Just because something is frand does not mean it has to be given away. It implies they can not refuse to license at a fair price. Maybe you have inside information into how much these cost samsung to develop, how much they have provided those to other people taking into account similar costing for cross licensing.

            The fact that Apple did not even enter into negotiations says a lot about their intentions and is nothing to do with getting the patents at a fair price. Who in business ever pays the first price someone asks? If you know someone send them my way please.

            > ignore patents they didnt want to pay for, and hoped they would win in court.

            No, patents they didn't think they should have to pay for because they don't apply or valid, that is what the court action was for. Apple have already acknowledged they need samsungs patents,. Do you honestly think the judgement against samsung in the US is going to stand up on appeal, assuming they've all not been invalidated before that point?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Double standards

              Charging a percentage doesn't sound "fair". That implies they're charging a different price to what they're charging others.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Double standards

        Florian is that you????

      4. Jeff Green

        Re: Double standards


        Apple are trying to prevent people making tablets with rectangular screens, I suppose Samsung could leave that bit out ...

      5. EvilGav 1

        @ Chris 19Re: Double standards

        Actually the investigation is to do with 4G/LTE patents, not wi-fi, 3G or anything else.

        The fact that Apple have been selling products and walking rough-shod over FRAND licencing that *every* other phone manufacturer has been paying seems to miss them completely.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          @EvilGav 1

          The fact that Apple have been selling products and walking rough-shod over FRAND licencing that *every* other phone manufacturer has been paying seems to miss them completely.

          This is 100% Samsung's fault. They pulled the license to Qualcomm specifically for chips made by Qualcomm to sell to Apple. They decided they wanted to screw over Apple and violate FRAND rules, and they are rightly getting investigated. The fact Apple is trying to assert stupid patents on rounded corners doesn't change the fact that Samsung is violating the agreements they made with ITU and other standards organizations.

          Perhaps when 5G is being defined, these standards organizations will tell Samsung to go away and not allow them to participate, because they shouldn't want someone who doesn't play by the rules everyone else does to take part.

          Awaiting the inevitable downvotes from clueless fandroids who up-vote anything anti-Apple and down-vote anything that's not anti-Apple, regardless of whether it is true or not.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chris 19

        Why should Samsung pay Apple anything at all for 'patents' that are being thrown out all over the place for being obvious?

      7. vic 4
        Thumb Down

        Re: See the difference

        Yes, completely different. However, a fair and reasonable price means fair to _both_ parties, why should samsung give away their ip for peanuts for genuine technological advancements and pay a shed load for things Apple claim to have invented (and we are seeing those slowly crossed off). Remember, Samsung (and motorola, etc..) invented all the stuff that makes an iphone a physically possibility. The benefit of getting frand patents is you get a lot of people asking to license them, more customers usually means lower price, but there are still costs involved that need to be covered.

        > apple MUST implement them.

        If they want to offer a product that uses them. They still have to pay and they have made no effort to do so. Apple never even asked Samsung for a price, they just started using stuff despite the fact they knew they needed them, Samsung made them an offer rather than taking the legal route, apple ignored that price, didn't even try to negotiate and jumped straight into court. That is rather arrogant/childish behaviour if you ask me. The only effort they tried was to actually reverse the situation were they get them for free and actually get paid for their own dubious patents.

        An before people start going on about a set percentage remember that the percentage was quoted after working it out from the amount actually wanted, not a fixed percentage they ask everyone, each company/product using the patents is considered independently and usually covered by cross licensing deals, something apple can't offer.

        BTW, I own more apple products than samsung and I prefer neither.

      8. Watashi

        Re: Double standards

        Samsung invents something really useful and the law forces them to let Apple use it. Apple invents the quadrilateral and the law bans Samsung from using it. The law, my friend, is an ass.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @nematoad - Re: Double standards

      You surely meant Apple's reality extortion field perhaps ?

  7. Crisp Silver badge
    IT Angle

    How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

    Can't mobile phone operators just agree to a slightly different standard?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

      Sadly (at least with regard to the US), it is nearly impossible to make a technical device these days without using/infringing on somebody's patent. Therefore when a standards committee is formed, they all agree up front to ignore who owns what patents and work out a system that works, after which all members of the committee which produced the standard are required to issue licenses for items covered by their patents under FRAND terms.

      Of course what really happens is everybody carefully watches who has which patents in the mix and makes up technical arguments to either advance their own or bump off a competitor's patent. If the committee isn't stacked from the start, you usually wind up with something reasonably well balanced from the patent payment standpoint, and everybody agrees to lie about it being the best technical standard.

      At the start of my career I got to be the fly on the wall at a firm working on just such agreements. It was going to be a private set of standards for some tech with only three vendors being licensed at any time for a particular group of products. The one that still stands out in my mind is the debate over whether or not the contacts for one interface between products should be gold or lead. Oddly enough at the time they both would have cost about the same per device to use. Even more oddly because of the way the plating worked and the fact that the contacts were for electricity, they were roughly equivalent on efficiency and life expectancy. (At least that's the way the two engineers managing the spec for the standards company explained it to me.) The only problem was that one major manufacturer was already standardized on gold while the other one was standardized on lead. The third hadn't built production facilities yet so they didn't care which one was chosen and the usual tie breaker was gone. So one firm was going to get screwed, another was going to get a bonus, and the third was odd man out no matter what.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

        Yep - that's pretty much how 3GPP works. A bunch of manufacturers/vendors trying to get their own patents mandated in the different standards documents - and as there are rather a lot of standards docs in 3GPP, there's plenty of scope for this. In the early days, IPR-laden contributions were snuck under the wire a lot, but now they are supposed to be disclosed up front.

        Either way, the "innovator" with the deepest pockets invariably floods the meetings with contributions and arguments and ends up with more IPR in the standards, therefore the balance of payments goes to them.

        On a side note, wasn't there a brief scandal over Apple registering standards reps from a different company as their own (or the other way round, I forget which) - just another example of them trying to game the system.

    2. william 10

      Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

      It's not that simple, the traditional Telco supply firms like Qualcomm,Samsung, Nokia, moto, NorTel have spent millions(billions) in research on the radio based technologies these standards are based on - these companies need to obtain a return on investment or they will not sponsor the relevant research in the future.

      The RAND/FRAND agreements have worked well for the last 20 years - it has not stopped new players like HTC developing and competing in the mobile phone space.

      The issue is that two of the new players (Apple, Microsoft) have refused to negotiate - you can clearly see this from the Moto / Mirco court case in German.

      I would not mind if these companies did more primary research, but these companies IMHO have a track record of using other peoples technologies with out fairly rewarding them (may I refer you to BSD Unix, Xerox, DEC (with VMS), Linux etc...).

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

        I call BS. The manufacturing companies make the real money by selling physical things that do work, and others buy them because the salesman convinces them the part is, in some sense, optimal for the desired purpose. The Patents probably are mostly defensive in two respects. First, having them included in the standard limits the extortion of others, and second, depending on the distribution of standards essential patents in the field, they may be an additional source of income.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

          In my post you can substitute manufacturers for vendors because they were. In fact if I were to name them, despite the fact that where I worked was a small American company that eventually went bankrupt, even in Europe you'd all recognize each of their names (and no, none of them were IT companies). The company I was working for was planning to derive all of its income from owning and licensing its patents: an upfront membership fee (probably about $300,000 a year in current dollars) and a small fee (3% of net profits IIRC, although it might have been gross revenue) for each device sold. Chump change for the multi-billion dollar companies we were dealing with, especially when they had a say in how the standards were implemented.

    3. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

      So that's what the issue is.

      The more you know...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How can you patent something that's "Standards Essential"?

      If you couldn't then nobody would work on cool new technology like 3G and 4G. Why on earth would you invest millions in R&D to just give it away?

      You can make the same argument for patents on drugs, they cost a lot of money and should be free. Except the research is expensive and so they have to recoup that cost.

      Either way you're gong to pay, it is surely fairer that the people who want a phone pay for the development instead of setting up some taxpayer funded R&D lab and have everyone paying for R&D even if they don't want a phone?

  8. Steve Knox Silver badge

    The US DoJ

    doesn't just open these investigations on a whim. Someone has to complain. Now what US company is currently in a spat with Samsung over SEP...?

    This is most likely a case of Apple opening as many complaints in as many arenas as possible, and now using one of their complaints (suitably obfuscated) in an attempt to bolster another.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: The US DoJ

      Minor Nit: depends on whose whim it is.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes Me Think Of Basil Fawlty And The Germans

    Elder Herr: "Will you stop talking about the war?"

    Basil: "Me?! You started it!"

    Elder Herr: "We did not start it!"

    Basil: "Yes you did, you invaded Poland!"

  10. CmdrX3

    What's Apple bothered about

    From what I've read they've just went ahead and used them without paying Samsung for them anyway.

  11. Rob Crawford

    So Samsung managed to come to agreements with every other phone manufacturer but not Apple, so Apple just used them anyway.

    Even then Samsung didn't hassle them UNTIL Apple started suing Samsung for what is in reality a load of bells and whistles shit and styling (despite Samsung and other mfgrs having used similar styling before the iDevice ever existed)

    It's also strange how only Apple thought that Samsungs terms where unfair (distant memory say something about cross licencing of technologies being a common thread)

    Of course the US authorities believe that nothing has ever been created outside of the US so no doubt they will take Apples side in this argument.

    1. Paul Shirley

      It's worse than that: Apple *refused* to take part in any negotiation at all under FRAND rules. They simply said NO at the 1st offer and took the IP without paying, then lied to every authority they could when it was convenient.

      They have a little problem: FRAND rules have clear arbitration procedures that Apple didn't bother with. Procedures that make it impossible for Samsung to unfairly charge anyone unless they volunteer. Whatever protectionist authorities can be bribed to do, they can't overcome the fact that Apple voluntarily removed themselves from FRAND's guarantees, the best they should expect is being ordered to take part in FRAND arbitration *before* being allowed to hit the courts again.

  12. Paul E

    This is the same apple who where told off by the FTC judge in his interim report because rather than negotiate with samsung or go to arbitration they went straight to court to complain it was too expensive?

    1. Paul E

      Sorry ITC not FTC

      "He ruled that injunctions are definitely available at the ITC for standards-essential patents, and that there is zero evidence of any wrong behavior by Samsung. Furthermore, the judge told Apple, which had claimed that the amount Samsung asked for licensing was too high to be a FRAND offer, that Apple can't unilaterally decide what is or is not a fair price. If it had objections, it could negotiate, which Apple failed to do, or there is a mediation process at ETSI it could have used, which it also apparently failed to do. Instead, the ruling says, the court battles are about negotiating a lower price."

  13. John G Imrie Silver badge

    The problem Apple have with phones

    is that they came rather late to the party. All the other mobile phone operators have worked hard to ensure that their kit works together and seem to play nicely with each others technology. Apple has stumbled into the park and demanded to be allowed to play along without contributing anything towards the equipment. And just to annoy the other players, they are trying to claim exclusive ownership of the lines on the pitch

  14. Alan Denman

    and the rest of the world looks at Apple .........

    and sees protectionism so they can spend only a few cents whilst charging users fat dollars.

    $6 for near actual technology versus $30 for Apple's finger swipes sounds very much akin to Apple's perception of playing fair

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and the rest of the world looks at Apple .........

      Actually Apple offered to reduce those royalties by up to 80% if Samsung will abandon Android and move to Windows mobile devices with keyboards instead of touch screens. Isn't that interesting ?


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