back to article South Korea probes 'mobe patent bully-boy' Samsung

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is investigating whether Samsung abused its position as a wireless patent hoarder following a complaint by Apple. The competition watchdog will assess whether Sammy used its patents, which cover technology deemed essential for meeting telecommunications standards, to bully mobile-phone …

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  1. dotdavid
    Trollface

    Samsung = Copycat

    They've blatantly copied Apple's competitive strategies.

    What? iPhone did you say? No I meant the lawsuits.

    1. Shagbag

      bet you it's a 'desktop' investigation

      ...some Korean guy looking at a powerpoint presentation and some Samsung-prepared sales figures during his lunch hour.

    2. BillG Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Samsung = Copycat

      I can't speak to today, but back in the 1990's I saw Samsung blatantly copy other people's electronic products. Samsung semiconductor used to copy other company's semiconductors and sell them as their own.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. R69

    This is beyond ridiculous - they just dont know when enough is enough do they?

    They leave the competition little choice but to sink to their own gutter trash level and either counter-sue everything, or to make sure they sue Apple before Apple sues them wherever they feel they can.

    Shame on you Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Oh shut up.

  3. o5ky
    WTF?

    So Apple can use their patents as they wish and Samsung & Mobility can't?

    Yeah that's fair...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Samsung and Motorola both chose to include these particular patents in industry standards and pledged to license those patents on RAND terms at the time. They did not have to do so, it was their choice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ AC 6/9 14:45 GMT

        "Samsung and Motorola both chose to include these particular patents in industry standards and pledged to license those patents on RAND terms at the time. They did not have to do so, it was their choice."

        They did and Apple still haven't paid them for the use of these patents - does that seem FAIR and REASONABLE to you?

        Apple believe that as they sell lots of phones the payments for these FRAND patents should be smaller than others as it gives others a competitive advantage not paying out as much.

        Apple - go f**k yourself.

    2. toadwarrior
      Facepalm

      They can do it with their non-essential patents but when you voluntarily make your patent essential there are restrictions.

      It's not a hard concept to figure out.

  4. Psyx
    Facepalm

    /sigh

    I think that the world should put aside all conflict and politics for a moment and force all the senior management of every smartphone manufacturer go and stand in the corner with dunces hats on, until they all agree to stop squabbling.

    And make them eat their greens, too.

    If you act like a child, you deserve to be treated like one.

  5. bean520
    FAIL

    One-sided much?

    so let me get this straight

    According to court of law, it is fine to patent stupid shit like rounded corners

    but as soon as those patents turn to litigation, the accused cannot retaliate with genuinely useful and innovative technology patents that the accuser has obviously infringed upon, antitrust suits start cropping up

    I dont want to live on this planet anymore

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One-sided much?

      It gets worse, according to the US you can now protect a colour

      http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/christian-louboutin-wins-right-to-protect-red-sole-trademark.html

      1. DJO Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: One-sided much?

        Tricky one to do with trade dress and passing off - You try to sell (crappy) milk chocolate in the UK with nasty mauve packaging and do you really think Cadburys will just ignore it?

        It certainly sounds stupid but in very specific circumstances it is valid, if you want to sell anything other than "chocolate" in mauve then Cadburys can get stuffed.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: One-sided much?

          If you check out most supermarkets own brand labels they come remarkably close in shape and colour to the one they are trying to mimic, far closer than the samsung/iphone 'match' (and the iphone was merely a copy of someone elses if I remember previous discussion well enough).

          Besides which as kraft have already started messing with the Cadburys 'recipe' to save money Cadburys will soon taste just as disgusting as Hershys and everyone will be avoiding purple wrapped 'chocolate'. (Actually it now tastes as bad as the Hershys version of Cadburys you could buy in the States 10 years back, which is pretty disgusting though not as bad as pure Hersheys,Certainly I have already stopped buying Cadburys).

      2. andreas koch
        Devil

        @ AC 1342h - Re: One-sided much?

        Erm, there's a better example.

        Although as explained a little further down, it's only in conjunction with the logo . . .

      3. AntiPoser
        Trollface

        Re: One-sided much?

        Ask a woman and she will tell you he has the right as this was his trade mark unique to his shoe label. Now it has been copied it has devalued the label. So it is not about the color bu rather the Red Sole as a brand identifying solution.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One-sided much?

      "but as soon as those patents turn to litigation, the accused cannot retaliate with genuinely useful and innovative technology patents that the accuser has obviously infringed upon, antitrust suits start cropping up"

      Not when the company pledged to license those patents under RAND terms.

      1. EvilGav 1
        FAIL

        Re: One-sided much?

        You seem to not quite understand what FRAND is, otherwise you wouldn't continually type the same comment.

        Fair Reasonable and Non-Descriminatory

        Which means you can charge what the industry believes is a Fair and Reasonable amount (whatever that may be, in the case of CDs it's around 0.5cents per disk to Phillips and Sony), but that price has to be the same to everyone, you cant charge someone more because you don't like them - Non-Descriminatory.

        If the entire industry is paying a price for patents and a new person turns up to the party, they don't get to claim that the price is unfair just because it seems too high to them - that price was set before you joined the party, deal with it.

        Furthermore, the licences that are used within a standard aren't dictated by the owner of the patent, but usually by a working group or committee made up of representatives of hardware, software and sometimes governmental types - the reasoning behind patents *not* becoming part of a standard is frequently based on the fact that the FRAND requirement would require too high a payment.

        Again, all of the standards that Apple so vehemently argued about payments for (which included 2G, a standard that had been in place for over a decade before Apple even announced a phone), were in place before they were interested in the market.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @EvilGav1 One-sided much?

          Not all standards organizations have the same policies, some allow contributors to negotiate for royalties with implementers directly, some require patent/royalty pools, and others forbid any royalties on submitted technology.

          "but that price has to be the same to everyone"

          I have negotiated several license agreements to use standards-based technology, and the price is most often one of things negotiated. There is a lot of leeway to alter the price so there is larger one-time fee but smaller per-unit royalties or to reduce the fees and exchange technology rights.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One-sided much?

        Not when the company pledged to license those patents under RAND terms.

        And when the company that doesn't own the patents just uses them without paying anything, you call that fair - I think not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One-sided much?

          "And when the company that doesn't own the patents just uses them without paying anything, you call that fair - I think not."

          Nobody said that Apple can use Samsung's technology without paying for it. Assuming the technology is valid and implemented, Apple is obligated to pay Samsung a RAND rate. Samsung can certainly take Apple to court to collect a RAND rate.

  6. Twyford

    It'll all be a total farce if it reaches a point where the actual technology related patents are meaningless but the subjective ones, like the rounded corners, well we can protect those to the tune of billions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Twyford

      This has already happened, this is where we are today.

    2. toadwarrior

      You right...that is only if you're too stupid to understand the difference between normal and frand patents.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chilling effects on innovation

    Has anyone considered the chilling effects of devaluing standards essential patents?

    If allowing my patented technology to be included in a standard will undermine the value and competitive advantage that I would gain from developing that technology, I would not allow it to become integrated in any standard.

    1. jai

      Re: Chilling effects on innovation

      But then, someone else's tech that achieves the same result in a sufficiently different manner to not infringe upon your patent does become part of the standard and world+dog uses that tech instead of yours, and pays them a license for it instead of you.

      Having principles is all very well, but it doesn't pay the bills or put food on the table.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chilling effects on innovation

      The "value" of a true standards-essential patent is that it is included in an industry standard. By definition, every device implementing a particular standard is using the standard-essential patent and cannot be worked around. That guarantees a revenue stream for the patent for the life of the standard.

    3. stuff and nonesense

      Re: Chilling effects on innovation

      You offer your tech for use in a standard on FRaND trems to receive royalties of pennies in the pound compared to licencing the tech exclusively to select third parties.

      The advantage is that you get pennies from everyone who conforms to the standard, hopefully more pennies than if you licenced the tech exclusively.

  8. Eponymous Cowherd
    Unhappy

    All seems rather unfair......

    Apple patent a lot of arty-farty crap. Samsung get a kicking for doing something that looks a bit like said arty-farty crap.

    Samsung patent some real engineering and get another kicking for not wanting Apple to use them for a FRAND pittance.

    Seems to me it should be the other way round. Real engineering should have more value than "rounded corners".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All seems rather unfair......

      Samsung's technology is incorporated in an international standard. That means that every company implementing that standard has to pay a royalty and/or license fee to Samsung. Apple cannot work around that and will eventually have to pay Samsung. Apple's design patent, while perhaps dubious, can be worked around. No company *has* to pay Apple to use rounded corners. In the end, Samsung's "real technology" is more valuable than Apple's design patents.

      1. andreas koch
        FAIL

        @ AC 1433h - Re: All seems rather unfair......

        > . . .

        Apple cannot work around that and will eventually have to pay Samsung.

        . . . <

        This is not true.

        Apple could very well build a device that does not use any of Samsung's patents; just as Samsung could build phones that are triangular with sharp corners and oval icons (This is impractical and wouldn't sell, but what the heck.), Apple could build lawnmowers, baby bottle sterilisers or washing machines (for which there is actually a market).

        From my point of view no-one forces them to ask Samsung for anything. It's their own decision to build mobile phones. Just as it's Samsung's decision to use a similar body for their phones.

        No "cannot" here. All free will.

        1. toadwarrior

          Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

          Enjoy a downvote for poor logic.

          Terms for frand patents were agreed upon and no one makes you turn you patent into an essential standard. So if samsung and motorola don't like those terms they could have also choose to keep it to themselves.

          They choose not to and need to play by the rules of frand patents. Next time they can opt not to make their next patent a standard and do without the guaranteed income (or patent cross licencing) from nearly every computing device manufacturer.

          1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
            FAIL

            Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

            @toadwarrior

            Samsung and Motorola don't choose to make their IP a standard, the standards bodies did.

            You seem to be suggesting that the next time Samsung and Motorola invent something they shouldn't patent it in case it becomes part of a standard.... leaving crApple free to patent it much later

            Enjoy a downvote for poor logic.

            1. stuff and nonesense

              Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

              Samsung and Motorola submit their patented tech to the standards bodies for inclusion in the standards.

          2. Mr_Bungle
            Alert

            Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

            "Enjoy a downvote for poor logic."

            Ooooh, a downvote from an Apple nerd. That will keep you awake at night.

            1. andreas koch
              Coat

              @ Mr Bungle - Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

              The downvote, sniff sniff. Yes you are right, it nearly made me cry.

              Not. Couldn't care less. It's one of around 150. But if it makes toadwarrior feel better . . .

              @ Toadwarrior:

              What was was trying to say is:

              No-one forces Samsung to build a phone that has round corners.

              No-one forces Apple to build a phone at all.

              Samsung does not have to copy Apple.

              Apple does not have to make 'phones.

              Every company has a choice. If Samsung thinks that it is a good business idea to use similar icons to a successful competitor and can't get away with it: Well, bully for them. Now they have to pay up (if they want to continue to make phones) and think of something else.

              And the same goes for Apple: If Apple thinks that it is a good business idea to make phones that rely on a certain technology and can't get away with it: bully for them. So they will either have to pay up or think of something else.

              Samsung can make the corners sharp and the icons hexagonal. (The phones and tablets never looked deceivingly similar anyway.) Apple is happy.

              Apple can decide not to use any of Samsung's technology (I'm oblivious as to the extent of it, but that's beside the point). They can base their iPhone interconnect on a new technology, which they in return can then patent and make money with it. For all I care it can be by use analogue modulated laser beams or clairvoyant pigeons or the digitised smell of Tim Cooks underwear. As long as it works, fine.

              It would be new, patentable and could be a valuable part of their portfolio.

              Everybody can use proprietary solutions. When Edison built his (first commercial) light bulb, it wasn't compatible to gas lights. Stevenson didn't build a train that could run on roads like horse carriages.

              Apples creative minds should easily be capable of thinking up similarly important inventions, bite the bit and be the big daddy if it catches on. But no, they brag about the shape of little pictures that you tap on to make something happen as if it's the cure for sneezes! A 1991 built Xerox DocuTech 6135 Laser printer had a freaking touch screen* with icons on it!

              They want to play with all the other kids, in the same sandpit.

              If they think that this sandpit isn't worth the penny entrance fee, they can easily set up their own sandpit and charge 2 pennies for joining. Maybe they would get rich and have a lot of mates to play with. And maybe not.

              I don't really know why I explain my personal opinion again. Maybe I had the feeling that your snottiness was caused by incomprehension, although Occam's razor says that it's just the reaction of a disappointed fan.

              No hard feelings, though: You're totally entitled to your own opinion.

              *But, I give you that, no multitouch.

              1. TangD
                WTF?

                Re: @ Mr Bungle - @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

                What?

                I almost saw your logic then you snuffed it out with a bit of a rant at the end. You are right, Apple don't *have* to make phones. However if they choose to make phones, then to help stop the market being a completely incompatible mess of multiple systems we have standards (let's pretended my current Americas based location doesn't exist for a moment). Now to help consumers, encourage competition and all that the patents included in said standards are available on FRAND terms. This is good for the patent holder (every phone maker has to pay you either in cash or kind) and good for the market as lots of people can make phones knowing they can get all the tech they need at a reasonable and non discriminatory cost (yay innovation).

                By your own statement rounded corners are somewhat less important, so should be no big deal to design something that has a different look, feel, gui etc. Heck even MS has come up with something that no one in their right mind would confuse for existing technologies, and I suspect they have patents for *their* new look and feel. If you don't like the patents Apple has been granted and feel they were ripped off from elsewhere then write to the relevant patent authorities in each territory that all made the same mistake, that is a different argument and has very little to do with Apple other than, they play the game well.

                So in short...

                Patent required for standard -> User must pay but on FRAND terms -> What Samsung has, Apple must use AND must pay but can say terms were not FRAND and ask courts for relief

                Patent not required for standard -> You don't need to use it, but if you do you can be charged what ever the holder can negotiate for it -> What Apple has, Samsung must pay, or stop using and pay damages. Only course of relief would be proving you're not using them or getting the patents invalidated.

                (I'm sure both companies hold essential and non essential)

                See?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ AC 1433h - All seems rather unfair......

          Apple cannot implement a cell phone that complies with the particular industry standard without implementing Samsung's standard-essential patents. By definition, standard-essential patents cannot be worked around or else they would not be "essential" to the standard. As long as Samsung patents are valid and truly essential, Samsung is entitled to compensation for their technology. The only question is over the definition of "fair" compensation.

    2. stuff and nonesense

      Re: All seems rather unfair......

      Samsung can't deny Apple use of FRAND licenced tech. Apple must pay royalties though.

  9. Alex C

    Samsung not Sammy

    Please Brid-Aine Parnell, pretty please, stop using 'Sammy' instead of Samsung.

    I've no idea why but it's really grating.

    Thanks ever so much.

    1. Peter Storm

      Re: Samsung not Sammy

      Yes, you should be using "the maker of knockoff iphones".

  10. ukgnome

    "Apple has frequently accused Samsung of demanding far too much in licensing fees for its 3G patents and abusing the "monopoly power" granted by those protected designs."

    POT - Hello Kettle

    KETTLE - eh?

    POT - You're black

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      that's a bit racist isn't it??

      1. andreas koch
        Joke

        @ AC 1425h

        So?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once upon a time..

    ...mobile phone manufacturers competed to produce the best phone for the cheapest price to the benefit consumers. Mobile phone technology advanced rapidly and everyone was happy.

    The along comes Apple, who invented absolutely nothing fundamental to the development of mobile phones as phones. They patented "The Bleeding Obvious", and "look and feel" and proceeded to sue anyone who dared to do something similar.

    When they were asked to pay for the use of those patents developed by real technology companies (FRAND doesn't mean free, remember) they scream and shout and refuse. Every other phone manufacturer obviously feel the prices charged to each other are reasonable, and as such pay them, if Apple want different terms, that breaks the Non-Discriminatory bit, as it discriminates against all other manufacturers.

    Maybe the fact that the real innovators can cross-licence the patents, thereby minimising the payments to each other, and Apple have nothing to offset against paying real cash over, is the problem. If so, it is a problem of Apple's own making, as they have been happy to stand on the shoulders of tech giants and give nothing back to the industry other than "shiny" and "that's ours and we're not sharing".

    1. Grikath Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Once upon a time..

      That's the gist of it, isn't it?

      Apple simply has next to zero FRAND patents in their portfolio, so they have to shell out for the use of the technology, while other manufacturers can cross-license. Which means that even at a reasonable fee per patent, the total amount is rather hefty, given the sheer amount of patents involved.

      And instead of a "Look, we're all chums together, let's have a bulk price and call it a day. " approach, they start litigating left and right to the point where they even try to get products from the main FRAND patent holder and main manufacturer of their kit banned wherever they think they can get away with it.

      It's like getting nabbed for speeding, and instead of sweet-talking the plod that wants to book you, spitting him right in the face..

    2. dssf

      Re: Once upon a time..

      Apple is becoming a real class act....

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Once upon a time..

      That's an inaccurate summary — Apple believes it has paid the Samsung fees because it merely buys in chips that incorporate Samsung's technologies and the relevant fees have already been paid. So Intel builds the baseband chips and pays the fees, then sells the chips to Apple. Samsung says 'that incorporates our technology, you have to pay', to which Apple replies 'Intel paid you, we paid Intel'. Apple has never attempted to argue that it shouldn't have to pay, only that it has already paid. It's an extension of same the reason that you and I don't have to pay Samsung for using its patented technologies.

      See e.g. http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/15/3242099/intel-caught-middle-baseband-apple-samsung-trial

      Whether Apple's defence stands up is immaterial to the point I'm making, which is simply that you're misrepresenting Apple's position on Samsung's patents. Everything from your third paragraph is inaccurate.

      I expect to be voted down because Apple are almost impossible to endorse on moral or emotional grounds but I think those at least are the correct facts.

    4. TangD
      Alert

      Re: Once upon a time..

      "The along comes Apple, who invented absolutely nothing fundamental to the development of mobile phones as phones"...

      Yes, which is why the iPhone was a short lived product that died out quickly wasting the R&D investment that had been made in the OS and user interface. The lack of consumer interest reflected how little had changed from devices existing at the time that tried to combine mobile voice communications with other functions. The clearest example of Apple's complete failure to move the market is how devices currently in the market could be more easily mistaken for a clam shell phone than an iPhone

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Devil

    Whaaaattt!!!!!!

    Noh Sang-sub, an official at the FTC’s anti-monopoly bureau, told the daily English-language paper.

    Noh Sang-sub is the name of the person investigation Samsung

    I somebody taking the piss?????

    Is it the 1st of April??

    Lester, is that you Lester?

    1. andreas koch

      @ Field Marshal Von Krakenfart - Re: Whaaaattt!!!!!!

      Herr Feldmarschall, sind Ihnen die Trockenfroschpillen ausgegangen?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is investigating whether Samsung abused its position as a wireless patent hoarder following a complaint by Apple."

    My dad used to say, "it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black"

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