Apple to court: We have a general policy against licensing our inventions, particularly to competitors

“In July, Apple and wholly-owned Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility gave notice of their appeals to the Federal Circuit of different parts of Judge Posner’s dismissal of one of their two-way lawsuits,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “Google (Motorola) is fighting Judge Posner’s denial of injunctive relief over FRAND-pledged standard-essential patents for high-level reasons while Apple’s appeal is much more case-specific: it’s pushing for an injunction (and, as a lower priority, damages) based on three of the 12 patents that used to be at issue in this case.”

“Apple and Google agreed on an extension of time for their pleadings, which the appeals court granted. While this is a cross-appeal of a two-way lawsuit, Apple is formally the appellant and Motorola the cross-appellant. Apple had to file its opening brief last week, but I obtained a copy of the public redacted version of that brief only today. It’s really a very interesting document,” Mueller reports. “The brief repeatedly refers to Apple’s ‘general policy’ concerning patent licensing… [including] ‘…Apple has a general policy against licensing its inventions, particularly to competitors.'”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. “We have a general policy against licensing our inventions, particularly to competitors.”

    2nd biggest understatement of the week. The first one being:

    “A push by Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. to combat Apple Inc.’s iPad in the $63.2 billion tablet market is getting off to a slow start.”

    1. The minefield of litigation about license fees, could be easily cleared by actually making licensing mandatory, but with degressive licensing fees starting prohibitively high, but degressing at a rate such that other companies can start to use the invention. It is the best of both worlds: assuring long time income, leaving it up to the competitor to choose the time when it becomes cost-effective to use the license, and protecting the invention for the time it takes to reap the advantages of being first on the market.
      Two (or more) parameters could be chosen by the inventor (namely beginning fee, and decay time constant or schedule), subject to some constraints determined by law.
      Such a policy may even unify the FRAND and other license regulations.

      If my idea catches on, tell everybody you heard it from me.

      1. Is sameshit tring to get the same deal that HTC got? They had their chance to get the licence before all the legal turmoil started. Also, since the patents Apple proposed to licence is not FRAND, Apple can charge whatever it wants for each licenser. Those Apple patents are not commodities.

  2. Like they should even have to say that. Apple detractors often portray the company as being greedy and selfish with the UI concepts and designs that they invested millions in. But isn’t that the point?

  3. That’t a key difference between Apple and Microsoft (actually most other large tech companies today). Apple generally uses patents as intended, to prevent the competition from copying its inventions. Others use patents to make money from licensing their inventions TO the competition.

    Apple approach is active, actually doing something with the invention. The other approach is passive, claiming ownership of an intention, but NOT taking the action; let someone else take the actual risk. And the slimiest of this bunch file patents for the sole purpose of later suing others who do something even remotely similar…

  4. How is admitting this good? Why can’t others say the same thing who are in a position to demand Apple license something from them?

    Apple’s like, screw you, we’re not licensing you anything. Yet, they use other people’s inventions and pay millions each year in patent licensing fees. Imagine if those people stopped those licenses and pushed to force Apple take their offending products off of the market because they were infringing on their patents.

    Apple needs to get over itself, and fast.

    iPad 4 as a spec bump? Sorry, some pretty dumb decisions lately and way, way too much focus on litigation.

    1. •”Why can’t others say the same thing who are in a position to demand Apple license something from them?” They can if they think they can prove to the court what Apple is appealing.
      •”pple’s like, screw you, we’re not licensing you anything.” If you read the case or are familiar with it that is not Apple’s position.
      •”Apple needs to get over itself, and fast.” In my experience, a statement like this says more about the position of the person posting rather than about the court case.
      •”way too much focus on litigation.” Only assumption from this is the person posting has no idea how corporations work to protect themselves from future losses. A somewhat uninformed position that Apple stops everything and all the employees work to help legal strategy.
      Sorry, corporate American doesn’t work that way.

    2. Two things, both of which you seem confused about:

      1) “Why can’t others say the same thing who are in a position to demand Apple license something from them?”
      If you are talking specifically anout these suits in which Motorola, Samsung, HTC, etc are trying to get Apple to cross-license patnts with them, then the short answer to your question is that they are not in that position to demand any such thing… And yet they are demanding it anyway. They want to get access to Apple’s private patents in exchange for Standards Essential Patents, which everyone has equal access to anyway, so this is not right.

      2) Apple can decide if they want to license out their own private technology, patents and IP… or not. Since Apple makes the whole widget, and their whole mission is about delivering a unique/best UX, they don’t want to make it easy for competition to copy the ingredients that make it work.

      Now, the business model of other companies may be very different. Perhaps they make some of the ingredients that Apple blends together to make up their complete product. These might include touch or voice technologies, screen sensors, chip sets, USB, camera parts, etc. They WANT Apple to license and use this stuff, and they want Apple to be successful, because it makes them money on every unit. Or, a new startup may be angling for Apple to buy them out completely.

      Either way, Whether Apple has licensed or bought something to blend with something else it does, Apple may improve on something or come up with something new and patentable as a result…

      For example, Apple licenses from ARM the permission to use the ARM instruction set; but as of the A6 SoC chipset, I believe, Apple has completely come up with its own chipset design and is not using an ARM produced reference design. Yes, Apple’s ability to do that is likely due to its acquisition of PA Semi. So what? Apple recognized talent when they saw it and brought them on board; and after coming onboard, the design process was directed by Apple at Apple and for Apple. These are Apple chips and Samsung has no right to use their design, even if Samsung produces them for Apple. If they end up on the other side of Samsung in a Samsung phone or tablet, they are stolen property.

  5. Apple has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to defend its proprietary rights. I see no problem with the litigation, especially given the thievery that has taken place.

    As far as the licensing issues you raise, plenty of companies exist in the market who would be greatly pleased to license their product to Apple. On the other side of the fence, Apple really has little incentive to license their products. They are afterall the big kid on the block.

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