Apple accuses Samsung of ‘serial standard-setting abuses’ and ‘deceiving standards-setting organizations,’ among other things

“In late July I blogged about Apple’s FRAND [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] defense against some of Samsung’s patents-in-suit. In that post I also explained the concept of FRAND and the role FRAND licensing plays in connection with industry standards,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents.

“The fact that FRAND commitments restrict the ways in which a patent holder can leverage standards-essential patents in disputes with competitors is also important to consider in the context of Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility (MMI),” Mueller reports. “Most of MMI’s patents aren’t particularly strong. Yesterday, M-CAM founder and CEO Dr. David Martin simply called them ‘crap’ on Bloomberg TV.”

“And the relatively best ones MMI has — which wasn’t discussed on Bloomberg — are subject to FRAND commitments. Standards-essential patents can be great parking meters to collect limited amounts of money, but they just aren’t nuclear warheads and won’t protect Android,” Mueller reports. “The limitations of FRAND were raised again in a brief filed yesterday by Apple with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in opposition to a Samsung motion to dismiss and strike Apple’s FRAND-related counterclaims. In that pleading, Apple also makes reference to its FRAND-related claims against MMI.”

Mueller reports, “Apple accuses Samsung of ‘serial standard-setting abuses,’ ‘deceiving standards-setting organizations,’ and having ‘perpetrated’ ‘anticompetitive ambush.'”

Read more in the full article here.
 

24 Comments

        1. Paper Chase, one of my most favourite movies, has left a profound impact in my life. For years, I didn’t bother to open my undergrad degree certificate when it was mailed to me, out of some silly contempt. Never bothered to attend any of my graduations.

          The TV series that followed was semi-decent; but the movie remains a gem.

    1. Whew, Richie et al, I am glad I am not the only person who read that pile of words and wondered why it was deposited on us instead of discreetly flushed. I was beginning to think it was the three gin gimlets I had before dinner…

  1. The issue concerns the difference between patents granted for specific functionality, and those which are subsequently adopted as an industry standard. The article points out that motorolla’s best patents are largely those which have been adopted as a standard – and in this case, motorolla is obliged to license the techology to all-comers. Therefore google cannot use these patents to mount a defines against google’s theft of Apple’s IP. The best they can do is earn license fees from Apple, which they probably are doing already. Apple is also accusing samsung of deceit in relation to some of samsung’s patents which are part of an industry standard.

    It will be interesting to watch this battle. Apple is already dumping samsung as a supplier wherever possible (wouldn’t you?) and it looks likely that apple will win at least some of it’s patent disputes.

    Samsung, like google, plays dirty. When you face a cheating opponent you naturally want to crush them. And apple is a very big steamroller…

    1. As Byronic notes, for those who are confused, there are two types of patents. The ones Apple has are not used for any standards and thus are NOT encumbered and are more valuable in a patent dispute. The patents Motorola and Samsung are asserting are part of industry standards and thus are encumbered and are less valuable in a patent dispute. Patents that are part of an industry standard have to be offered to anyone on FRAND terms, Fair and Reasonable. Your IP becomes ubiquitous as part of the standard, but it’s less valuable as it MUST be licensed on fair and reasonable terms. You give something to gain something.

      Mueller is saying that Motorola’s and Samsung’s patents are less valuable in any showdown with Apple. Interestingly, Microsoft is using many of the same arguments in suing Motorola.

      This issue came up in the Nokia fight. Nokia wanted Apple to pay up to 3x the FRAND rate for some of their patents that are part of the industry standard. Apple balked. Ultimately, Apple paid, but that doesn’t mean Nokia won, as Apple was required to pay something, the argument was over how much. Since Apple made no SEC filing, as a result of the decision, it meant that the result was immaterial. The only way it could be immaterial is if Apple had already set aside what they thought would be satisfactory, which to me would be FRAND terms.

      1. So by the inverted logic of patent law, patents that should be construed as more valuable in the sense that they have pushed the boundaries of technology forward and are now widely adopted by a standards governing body are less valuable when it comes to a patent dispute because the patent holder is compelled to license the fruits of his work under the FRAND principle which provides for a ‘market rate’ to charge non-patent holders to gain the benefit of using the patent.

        Whereas patents that the industry finds less useful and therefore has not found widespread adoption by the standards body are more valuable in terms of enforcing the patent holder’s rights because there is no commercial value attached to licensing the patent. So in the topsy turvy world of patent laws, patents that are seen to be more valuable fetch a lesser value than patents that are seen to be less valuable from a technology standpoint.

        Surely from an equitable standpoint alone and from a commercial valuation perspective, this has to be total bullshit.

        1. Your logic hits a fatal flaw with the assumption that industry-wide standards are, by definition, more advanced than proprietary inventions which a company decides to keep to themselves.

          Apple alone should make it obvious that a company’s proprietary, unique inventions can be more valuable.

          1. The fact that the patent has entered into general use indicates the value of the patent to the industry. The patent system should be used as a tool to encourage the widespread use of new technology so everyone gets to benefit from the invention and the inventor has a mechanism to benefit commercially from his invention. Patents should not be used as an ammunition hoard to defend against patent suits or initiate one because that stunts the propagation of technological advancement and withholds that technology from wider general acceptance.

            So by my definition patents that have entered the public domain should carry a higher value than that which only serves a single organization who wishes to keep it proprietary. By your inverted logic the value of the combustion engine should only be retained by Daimler Benz and the jet engine by Messerschmidt which makes no sense.

        2. You’re missing something crucial: The reasons a patent-holder agrees to allow something to be part of a standard, and thus binds itself to FRAND terms.

          One possibility is that the inventor isn’t going to practice the invention, and worries that people will use other work-arounds, rather than use the patented tech. So, they agree to license the patent to anyone deploying the standard. They thus greatly increase the possibility of a steady stream of income, rather than possibly making NOTHING.

          Guess who gets to decide this? The patent-holder, that’s who. They decide whether to go it alone, hoping they can either directly license to individual companies or sue some aware/unaware infringer. Or, they settle for the standards-based approach, where they have to license (at a FAIR price!) to anyone working with the standard. Then, companies are often compelled to license the tech, since they want to interoperate. Less money, but wider market.

          Going it alone means convincing people that what you are asking for a license is worth more than the cost of working around the patent. Not always easy.

        3. I am not a lawyer, but it appears to me that there is logic in this balance. Patented IP that becomes part of an industry standard will be widely licensed. The patent holder is, therefore, likely to gain a solid revenue stream from placing IP into a popular standard, even though the royalty rates will be lower (or it would not be adopted by the standards governing body) and their control over the IP will be reduced (patent encumbered).

          The “value” of a patent depends on many factors. Adoption by a standards governing body adds value from one viewpoint, and reduces it from another. In the case of a patent dispute, the IP associated with an industry standard must be distributed under FRAND and, thus, does not provide the same leverage as a closely held patent that can be withheld or licensed at the discretion of the patent owner. In this case, the advantage goes to Apple.

  2. Basically Samsung, in a page out of Carl Rove’s book is lying and talking out of both sides of it’s mouth. If there’s any judge worth their salt that actually exiles tge detail of facts, Samsung could get sanctioned in addition to having their arguments dismissed for deception and fraudulent claims.

  3. I’m about done with Samsung… they make some decent stuff and some average to mediocre stuff – cell phones and laser printers fit the “average” standard -but nothing they make is really original or innovative in its own right. I don’t feel the need to support a Korean copycat company over an American one, despite Apple’s contract manufacturing in China and Taiwan, despite holding my nose on that point. If Samsung follows through on creating their own mobile OS and stops cranking out near exact lookalikes to Apple products, I’d give them some props for actually competing in the market. Until then, I hope they get what’s coming to them in lost customers and legal penalties.

  4. Reading the entire linked article, it seems Apple has the advantage in this litigation. Samsung is used to being able to push other companies around, partly because it is so big. Well, it seems Samsung has (more than) met its match in Apple. MS appears to be playing a constructive role as well, bitch-slapping Samsung wherever they can.

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