Posts Tagged: "FRAND"

Qualcomm files suit in China seeking to ban iPhone sales by asserting three non-SEPs

A major legal battle over patented technologies in the mobile device communication sector between San Diego, CA-based semiconductor developer Qualcomm Inc. and Cupertino, CA-based consumer tech giant Apple Inc. took a new turn as multiple news reports indicated that Qualcomm had filed suit in China seeking a ban on the sale and manufacture of iPhones. Qualcomm’s court filing in China is the latest salvo in a barrage of legal challenges between both company’s over licensing activities between Qualcomm, Apple and the many Asian contract manufacturers who fabricate smartphones for Apple which incorporate technologies allegedly covered by Qualcomm’s patents.

Qualcomm’s Antitrust War and The Patent Licensing Issues

Even at ground level, where American courts in San Diego and San Jose are now being called on to apply the law laid out in prior court decisions to the particular facts of the smartphone chip market, the multipronged attack on Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices offers an unusually rich platter of meaty issues to feast upon for those who advise patent licensors and licensees. Leaving aside the implications for the smartphone industry and the market for cellular baseband processors that Qualcomm now dominates, the new precedents that will be set in court—if the parties don’t settle or a Republican-controlled FTC doesn’t withdraw its case—will have broad and deep implications for patent owners and users—much as the US v. Microsoft case has had since it was decided almost two decades ago.

ITC institutes Section 337 investigation into Hisense Wi-Fi TVs infringing on Sharp patents

On Wednesday, September 27th, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it had decided to institute a patent infringement investigation against Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense (SHA:600060). The investigation, which follows from a Section 337 complaint filed by Japanese electronics firm Sharp (TYO:6753), will seek to determine whether certain Wi-Fi enabled devices and their components, specifically televisions which are capable of wireless Internet connectivity, which are imported into the U.S. by Hisense infringe upon two patents covering similar technologies held by Sharp.

ITC opens patent infringement investigation after Qualcomm files complaint against Apple

On Tuesday, August 8th, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it was opening up an investigation on claims that Cupertino, CA-based consumer electronics behemoth Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is infringing upon patented technologies, specifically baseband processor modems, in its mobile electronic devices. The investigation follows a Section 337 patent infringement complaint filed on July 7th with the ITC by…

How Many Times Should Qualcomm be Paid for Old Technology?

The FTC laid out Qualcomm’s predatory licensing tactics in its complaint. Instead of treating all companies the same, Qualcomm refuses to license to other chip makers so that it has a virtual monopoly on CDMA chips. And instead of licensing on FRAND terms, Qualcomm forces its customers to buy licenses they don’t need and massively overcharges them for those licenses… No one denies Qualcomm’s place in telecommunications history, but Qualcomm has been paid many times over at this point. Enough is enough.

Bogus claims of patent abuse must be ignored

On April 20, 2017, a group of auto and technology companies sent a letter to President Trump urging him to direct the Federal Trade Commission and other U.S. agencies to do something “to address patent abuse involving standardized technologies,” which the letter goes on to explain are vital to the “nation’s innovation and economic development.”… So what is going on that has these companies all hot and bothered? It is a contract issue, nothing more. It is merely paraded around as patent abuse in an attempt to both deceive, and to make it more likely the government will want to step in and tip the balance with an agency finger on the scale. After all, if it were a private contract matter it would be much more difficult to get the federal government to pick a side. So the decision is made to grossly misrepresent the heart of the problem and pretend it is something that it is not.

FTC acting chair Ohlhausen tells ABA IP conference agency revised IP guidelines are ‘modest’, give FTC flexibility

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will not be radically changing the analysis used to address antitrust issues presented by patent law issues. The news stems from comments made by FTC acting chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen at the 32nd Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA). Ohlhausen would go on to explain that the recent updates to the IP Licensing Guidelines, which occurred in January 2017, were “modest”, provided the FTC with flexibility, and continue to recognize that “IP law grants enforceable rights.”

Ericsson publishes FRAND licensing rates for 5G/NR after Qualcomm sued for chip licensing activities

On March 3rd, Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson publicly announced its fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions for the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs) for 5th Generation New Radio (5G/NR) as standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The decision to announce these terms publicly may be an indication that Ericsson is looking to avoid the fate of other mobile wireless chip makers, which have come under fire in recent months for their own licensing practices.

Al Capone and Qualcomm: Why Section 5 of FTCA should not be a fallback to challenge conduct actionable under the Sherman Act

Last month, after a multi-year antitrust investigation, the United States Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal district court charging Qualcomm with using anticompetitive business practices in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC’s decision to charge Qualcomm with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, in lieu of alleging that Qualcomm’s conduct violated the Sherman Act appears to be the tactical equivalent of the government’s 1930’s decision to pursue Capone for tax evasion… Section 5 should not be used as a fallback device to challenge conduct actionable under the Sherman Act, but where the enforcement agency is unable or unwilling to meet the evidentiary rigor required by case law under the Sherman Act.

Korea announces $865 million fine on Qualcomm for standard essential patent license violations

The fine on Qualcomm is for allegedly refusing to license standard essential patents to competing companies on fair and reasonable terms. According to the Korean authorities, Qualcomm’s actions amounted to coercion for the purpose of strengthening its monopolistic power in the patent license market and chipset market… Not surprisingly, Qualcomm vehemently disagrees with the assertions made in the press release, has pointed out that a final written decision is not generally expected after an announcement like this for another 4 to 6 months, and promises to aggressively appeal… Rosenberg explained that Qualcomm was repeatedly denied access to documents and the right question witnesses, rights that are guaranteed to U.S. companies under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

SEP Licensing: Looking Beyond Essentiality

Unlike other technologies (e.g. User interface) where the manufacturers have a choice to design around the technology of the patent, in case of SEPs, there is no possible way to avoid infringement and still comply with the standard. On the other hand, non-compliance with standard is a commercially non-viable option. This situation gives the SEPs holders a great leverage to assert their licensing terms. While there have been several cases and rulings in favor of SEP licensees that put some restrictions on the SEP holders regarding their FRAND licensing commitments as well as their abilities to exercise an injunction for infringement of SEPs, lack of clarity on FRAND terms still make the negotiations tough for a potential SEP licensee.

A micro-economic estimate of the reasonable royalty rate for standard essential patents

The debate on RAND terms and conditions is mostly about the reasonability of the royalty rate, less about non-discriminatory part. So, what is a “reasonable rate”? Companies that manufacture products based on a standard will demand lower rates or royalty-free licenses, claim harm from patent hold-ups and from royalty stacking. These companies will argue that it is unfair when companies that contribute technology to the standard benefit from the lock-in of the standard because it is now unavoidable to use the essential patents in their products. On the other hand, companies that participated in standards development, and own essential patents because of that investment, claim that lower royalty rates will remove the incentives for future investments in standard setting and will stifle innovation. In the confusion generated by these lobbying interest groups, it makes sense to go back to the one thing everyone seems to agree on: Standards are good.

Keeping an eye on patent trolls

Regulators face a twofold challenge: First, they need to balance the legitimate interests of patent holders and licensees in order to determine which activities and contracts the law will enforce, or otherwise recognize as creating legal rights. Second, they need to establish rules that minimize both the costs of assessing a given case, and the costs of taking wrong decisions. One traditional approach has been to use antitrust law.

What Mattered in 2015: Insiders Reflect on Biggest Moments in IP

This year our panel of industry insiders is quite diverse, with commentary from Bob Stoll (Drinker Biddle), Ashley Keller (Gerchen Keller), Paul Morinville (US Inventor), Alden Abbot (Heritage Foundation), Marla Grossman (American Continental Group) and Steve Kunin (Oblon). Unlike last year where there was near unanimous agreement that the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank was the biggest moment of the year, this year our panel of industry experts focused on a variety of different matters. There was one recurring theme, however. The inability of patent reform to advance on Capitol Hill was undoubtedly one of the biggest stories of the year.

Emerging Antitrust Regulation of Intellectual Property Licensing in Asia

Both Korea and China are major players on the global patent stage, and the leading companies of these countries file and obtain thousands of patents annually. But it seems increasingly clear that the governments of these countries are attempting to support their domestic companies via antitrust enforcement to lower the price of access to patented technologies of foreign competitors.