The IP Licensing Guidelines, which state the agencies’ antitrust enforcement policy with respect to the licensing of intellectual property protected by patent, copyright, and trade secret law and of know-how, were issued in 1995 and are now being updated. In the agencies’ view, the IP Licensing Guidelines remain soundly grounded, as a matter of antitrust law and economics. Nevertheless, the agencies have determined that some revisions are in order because the IP Licensing Guidelines should accurately reflect intervening changes in statutory and case law.
The number of these potentially anticompetitive deals has fallen significantly following the Supreme Court’s landmark antitrust decision in FTC v. Actavis in 2013. The total number of such deals filed with the FTC has dropped to 21 in FY 2014 from 29 in FY 2013, and 40 in FY 2012 prior to the Actavis ruling. The FTC staff report for FY 2014 represents the first annual snapshot of such deals following the Actavis decision.
The order bars the company, MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, and its law firm from making deceptive representations when asserting patent rights. The settlement with MPHJ, announced in November 2014, is the first time the FTC has taken action using its consumer protection authority against a patent assertion entity.
The FTC’s complaint against Sony charges the company with making false claims about the PS Vita’s “cross platform gaming” or “cross-save” feature. Sony claimed, for example, that PS Vita users could pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off. This feature, however, was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game.
The settlement with MPHJ is the first time the FTC has taken action using its consumer protection authority against a patent assertion entity (PAE). PAEs are companies that obtain patent rights and try to generate revenue by licensing to or litigating against those who are or may be using patented technology. “Patents can promote innovation, but a patent is not a license to engage in deception,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Small businesses and other consumers have the right to expect truthful communications from those who market patent rights.”
The Federal Trade Commission filed a federal court complaint against AT&T Mobility, LLC, charging that the company has misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds, in some cases by nearly 90 percent.
The FTC is seeking a court judgment declaring that the defendants’ conduct violates the FTC Act, ordering the companies to disgorge their ill-gotten gains, and permanently barring them from engaging in similar anticompetitive behavior in the future. At issue in the alleged sham patent infringement suit is an ingredient in branded AndroGel, called isopropyl myristate or IPM. IPM is known as a “penetration enhancer” because it speeds the delivery of the drug’s active ingredient, testosterone, through the skin and into the bloodstream. The patent on branded AndroGel covers only a formulation using IPM as the penetration enhancer, according to the FTC complaint.
Amazon.com, Inc. has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed today in federal court… The complaint alleges that in early 2013, Amazon updated its in-app charge process to require password entry for some charges in a way that functioned differently in different contexts. According to the complaint, even when a parent was prompted for a password to authorize a single in-app charge made by a child, that single authorization often opened an undisclosed window of 15 minutes to an hour during which the child could then make unlimited charges without further authorization.