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EU Targets Motorola In Antitrust Investigation Over Standards-Essential Patents

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the between-the-crosshairs dept.

EU 85

Fluffeh writes "Motorola Mobility has found itself on the receiving end of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission due to its alleged abuse of standards-essential patents related to WiFi, H.264, and 3G wireless networking. The EC investigation comes shortly after it launched a similar investigation of Samsung, which has been attempting to leverage its 3G-related patents against Apple. The investigation could be especially worrisome for Google, which was recently granted approval of its planned merger with Motorola."

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Eh. (-1, Offtopic)

boxxertrumps (1124859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569583)

I'm really not interested, but hey, First Post.

Re:Eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569711)

I'm really not interested, but hey, First Post.

I'll file an anti-trust law suite against you because there's no way you could have gotten that first post without illegal monopolistic tactics.

Re:Eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569729)

I'll counter with a patent infringement suit against you, because there's no way you could have come to that conclusion without infringing upon my methods for determining illegal monopolistic practices via analysis of online posts patent!

Any monopopies inside the EU? (1, Redundant)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569613)

Why is it that the only antitrust enforcement I hear about in the EU is against non-EU based companies? Is it really that case that no corporations inside the EU are big enough to be anti-competitive? Or is it that there are cases with EU companies that are not reported very much? Or is it that the EU differentially goes after foreign concerns? I truly have no idea, I was just wondering.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569653)

Such enforcement is quite common in the different EU countries, and cases are typically resolved there long before it becomes a problem for the EU in general.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (5, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569665)

There are many cases [europa.eu] brought against European corporations. Most of those do not make the news across the pond, and many do not make the headlines here in the EU either. The same goes for antitrust cases brought against lesser-known US companies.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569801)

Politicians are like babies' diapers; they should be changed often, and for the same reason.

And then put in an incinerator for proper sanitary disposal?

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570007)

There are many cases brought against European corporations.

In many cases it's also an unimportant distinction. To see a multinational corporation headquartered in the US but with substantial presence, employees, infrastructure, business partners, suppliers in the EU as "a US corporation" as opposed to "an EU corporation" is a big mistake. The interests of a country in relation to a multinational company have little to do with where it's headquarters are located.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570613)

While I'm glad the EU still has some teeth (we sold out the DoJ years ago, hell they might as well wear hooker boots and stand on street corners now) I'm kinda divided on cases like this. I mean as long as they didn't "pull a Rambus" and went behind everyone's backs with the patents why can't they charge what they want? Nobody forced anyone to decide to stick their tech into a standard did they? It seems like the moral of the story is don't stick things you don't own into the standards.

If they had signed a RAND agreement and THEN tried to get money that is a different story, that's "pulling a Rambus" but from the looks of TFA they offered RAND and got basically told to fuck right off. If I own a patent and you don't pay you damned right I'm gonna shut you down, so how is this ANY different? If something is patented you pay or you don't use it, its just that simple. If the EU wants to abolish all patents in their jurisdiction then they should just do so, otherwise this does kinda feel like picking and choosing.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39571229)

You can say that the DoJ has sold out years ago, but what action that was put before them that they did not resolve?

You are just bitter because your an open source zealot, and nothing short of completely destroying Microsoft would have been failure in your eyes. Of course, the EU did even less. They just fined Microsoft, and said they had to open a few protocols that a couple of their EU companies wanted access to. Whoopee.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#39573899)

From the proceedings:

[...] by seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple's and Microsoft's flagship products such as iPhone, iPad, Windows and Xbox on the basis of patents it had declared essential to produce standard-compliant products, Motorola has failed to honour its irrevocable commitments made to standard setting organisations. In these commitments, Motorola engaged to license those standard-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Sounds like Motorola actually did commit to offer licenses for these patents on a FRAND basis, then reneged on that commitment. Or so Apple and Microsoft claim. That is what the Commission is investigating; there's no ruling as yet, and perhaps they will find that whatever terms Motorola offered were fair and non discriminatory.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39574241)

And more importantly, not all of them result in a finding of wrong doing by the company being investigated.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (5, Informative)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569671)

It's because large US-based corporations doing business in the EU tend to try and get away with anti-competitive practices that are allowed to pass for "business as usual" in the US, where there is a much more permissive the-market-will-regulate-itself attitude.

It makes headlines because we in the EU try to keep companies from pulling this shit over here, and largely it works.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569743)

Which is why your economy is in the shitter and ours...

Oh, wait so is ours. There goes that line of conservative "logic".

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569865)

Conservative logic? Are you meaning that what the mainstream US conservatives are saying? Perhaps but since it's also failing in the EU that means mainstream US liberals are also wrong. Go figure.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570087)

Conservative logic? Are you meaning that what the mainstream US conservatives are saying? Perhaps but since it's also failing in the EU that means mainstream US liberals are also wrong. Go figure.

No they're not. They can't be.

They CARE more than you do.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570177)

Europe is having to support former USSR style countries coming in to the regular Western society/mold. It's draining the major countries. Add to that the criminal behavior of the USA's financial sector, bringing down most of the world's economies, the EU members are having certain issues. But that doesn't stop them from addressing potential illegal business practices, even if the companies in question are USA based.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (5, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569979)

Europe does a lot of stuff I like and a lot of stuff I don't like.

What frustrates me is mankind's desire to reinvent the wheel.

We have a fight in America over nationalized healthcare. Obamacare is a half-assed mix between true socialized healthcare like what is in pretty much every European country and our private system. Why reinvent the wheel when we can just copy what has, say, already been working quite well for the UK since the end of World War 2?

We have issues in our schools with... everything. We're looking at more tests and more hours in school like Asian countries that are often near the top of world rankings. Yet Finland [nationmultimedia.com] is also very much near the top in those rankings but with shorter school hours and more professional teachers. They are doing something quite right and have been for some time. Why don't we have the people who designed this system coming over here and unfucking ours?

I could go on with many more examples. I wish I could say "They can do it, so we should be able to do it as well!" and have someone respond "Right, let's find out how they did it!" rather than "Let's stubbornly try to figure it out ourselves and give private interests the opportunity to corrupt the system!" Related to business, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a great idea that gets nowhere because they are essentially stripped of any real power. Private interests got their hands in the cookie jar.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570101)

> Why reinvent the wheel when we can just copy what has, say, already been working quite well for the UK since the end of World War 2?

You might want to follow the UK debate on the state and sustainability of the NHS. Or Germany's debate on its health care. It turns out that the populous European countries have health care systems that aren't exactly the panacea some people believe they are. People are getting older and require care that is far more expensive across their life time than it used to be all while people complain about tax rates. Add poor diets that lead to quite frankly ridiculous amounts of money spent on treating diabetes and you end up with a system that doesn't scale.

Is European health care generally better than US health care? Yes. Is it still going to fail in the larger countries? Probably. /European

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (4, Interesting)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570195)

The whole "debate" on the viability of the NHS is just a convenient justification for recently passed Tory-led reforms that many consider "privitisation through the back door". The increase in funding earlier on the last decade has started to show results, and heath outcomes are generally on the rise - why we are looking at another complete overhaul of NHS structure is beyond most observers.

The NHS performs quite well compared to any other system in the developed world - it also allows the UK to have the lowest cost as a percentage of GDP (in the developed world, adjusted for demographics) due to the nationalised/socialised nature of the organisation.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Nov/2011-International-Survey.aspx [commonwealthfund.org]

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570797)

Well, look at it from their point of view: they pretty much have to reorganise NHS before the Labour reforms have a chance to provide measurable results, just in case those results turn out to be too favourable to Labour.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571375)

Yeah, of course UK's NHS isn't perfect, but it is a hell of a lot better than what we have in the United States.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570245)

Just because the Conservative Party, which are after all our equivalent of the Republicans, are taking steps to make it unsustainable so that they can get away with privatising it does not mean it is fundamentally broken. Of coerce it needs a bit of re-focusing (years of over optimisation have damaged some parts) and either a bit more money or some pull back on the more expensive drugs, but neither of these fixes are even that hard just politically inconvenient.

The alternative? (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39573813)

> Why reinvent the wheel when we can just copy what has, say, already been working quite well for the UK since the end of World War 2?

You might want to follow the UK debate on the state and sustainability of the NHS. Or Germany's debate on its health care. It turns out that the populous European countries have health care systems that aren't exactly the panacea some people believe they are. People are getting older and require care that is far more expensive across their life time than it used to be all while people complain about tax rates.

Okay, so yes, health care is becoming more expensive because demographics are changing.
Not because public health care is inefficient, numerous studies have found that public health care systems are more efficient in terms of treatment on the dollar.

In reality the discussion about public health care systems being expensive, sums up to the question of whether or not everybody should have access to health care. The alternative health care systems are more expensive if everybody should have access. Personally I hope we'll see red banners in the streets before public health care disappears and we see an underclass of poor people who can't afford basic medical care.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (4, Informative)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570225)

Well, for one thing, don't model your healthcare on the UK system. It's not exactly a pinnacle of socialized healthcare today. In fact there are a lot of problems with the UK system, not necessarily related to socialized healthcare as a whole. I would urge you to look to Scandinavian countries, such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark, for models on which a good healthcare system can be built. I live in Finland and can attest to both the good education system (do I have to mention that university education is *free*?) and a working socialized healthcare system where you don't end up in the poorhouse when you get ill. Prescriptions drugs cost a fraction of what they do in the US, and if you have a chronic illness that requires continuous medication, once you reach a very reasonable yearly cap, everything else above that is free.

As a sidenote, since you brought it up, the Finnish education system is not based on rote memorization and testing of students to gauge progress. It's based on the teacher actually teaching the students (wow, innovative concept!) and taking the needs of each student into account. Each student is allowed to learn at their own pace, it's not forcing the entire class to learn at one speed and fuck the ones who can't keep up. It's also more objective based and learning of problem-solving skills that will be useful in a real job.

I am very familiar with the US and Finnish systems, I'm an American living in Finland for 12 years. I bet you can guess which I prefer...

The main problem with the UK system (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571165)

Is US "healthcare" companies lobbying to be able to take it over below a fair market price and exploit it, and the 70 or so MPs they are giving money too. It's a scandal.

The basic system works, but politicians feel the need to interfere with it at the behest of McKinsey - who may, if you are paranoid enough, have been the stalking horse for the US companies. Labour set ridiculous and disconnected "targets" which invited abuse of the system - just as happened with education in Chicago, as reported in Freakonomics - and the Conservatives keep trying to find ways to stop the "undeserving poor" from benefiting while lining their pockets - I'm sorry, acquainting themselves with what the US companies have to offer.

At the next election, a number of seats will be contested by retired GPs and consultants. This could well mean that the medical profession has the balance of power in a hung Parliament. I like the idea.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39573303)

Please don't knock the UK NHS unless you have actually had to use it. I had a heart attack a couple of years ago in the UK: In hospital in 20 minutes, tests taken confirmed a heart attack. Angiogram next day (14 hours after the event), diagnosis while the angiogram was running, three stents fitted and discharged (and I was healthy enough to walk out!) the day after. Total cost to me UKP 0.0.

After care, including medically supervised exercise classes for six months, follow ups at the hospital with the consultant, annual check-ups by GP, total cost UKP0.0

Ongoing drugs cost me UKP 120 per YEAR, if you are on drugs that push up the prescription cost (which is about UKP 6.50 an item) then you pay an upfront charge once a year (starting any time) and get a card and that's IT, no more prescription charges for the year.

I defy anyone to do a better job than that and I include the Scandics, (which I have experienced). It is sad that as someone else commented we have USA "health" companies "encouraging" MP's to try and screw the system, and the Murdoch's papers pushing the "failures" but I suspect the government is about to have it's mistake in this area shoved down it's throat.

Basically MPs that screw with the NHS better find a new carreer.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39582431)

"Well, for one thing, don't model your healthcare on the UK system. It's not exactly a pinnacle of socialized healthcare today."

Care to elaborate? It's always seemed pretty good to me, but then, maybe that's because I've actually used it, rather than read about it on the internet. The only problems with the NHS are that the current government seems to feel the need to fuck around with it despite the fact it's about the only thing the previous government got right. Well, that and sorting out the passport office so you can get a new passport in a couple of days rather than many weeks.

Be aware also that the UK system caters to a far larger and more diverse population than the Scandinavian healthcare systems, and so has to be designed to work on a far larger scale. It's easy to do a lot of things better when your population is as small those of Scandinavian countries, but Finland's entire population is about 25% smaller than that of London alone, let alone the rest of the UK.

A country like the US would be far far better off trying to model a system like the UK's where it's population is only 5 times the size, rather than 60 times the size.

I agree with you about education though, the UK's education system is a shambles. Whether the Finnish model would work for us I'm not really sure, but it needs something. Unfortunately we've been going for the US model where only the rich can afford university education, which is exactly what we don't want.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (4, Insightful)

Altrag (195300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570463)

Because the US would never get away with passing such legislation in the path of the well-entrenched and well-funded empires that already exist -- especially when they can bill it as "communist" in the press to garner instant public disapproval.

So they're stuck with such half-assed attempts that don't really please anybody, but are close enough to status quo that they also don't piss off the powerful people and organizations (or at least, not enough to keep fighting it.)

But on the other hand, a half-assed measure is better than none at all. If nothing else, it at least opens the door to the possibility of further change in the future. One step at a time.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571023)

Ahh, the "let's make things worse so maybe later we can make things better" approach.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570767)

Why don't we have the people who designed this system coming over here and unfucking ours?

Because that's not what the people in charge are trying to do. Corporate america is running the government. They choose which candidates we will even hear about, they write the laws and pay for their passage. They want students who are pliable and obedient. I got in trouble in third grade for looking at other children instead of putting my head down on my desk and resting quietly when I was finished with my work. When the unit's work is done, it shall enter an idle state until required again. They don't want educated citizens who are in a position to understand how they're being raped. They want idiots who are suited for military service, to rot in a prison, or to work at Wal-Mart or McDonald's. The rest of us can die in a ditch. In fact, they've found ways to profit when that happens, so it's an ideal outcome from their point of view.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39580237)

It's because large US-based corporations doing business in the EU tend to try and get away with anti-competitive practices that are allowed to pass for "business as usual" in the US, where there is a much more permissive give-the-politicians-money.

It makes headlines because we in the EU try to keep companies from pulling this shit over here, and largely it works.

FTFY

USA != free market

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569675)

Why is it that the only antitrust enforcement I hear about in the EU is against non-EU based companies?.

If interested you need to expand your news sources to not only US oriented ones (which also Slashdot is). Then you'll hear a lot about it.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (5, Informative)

SilenceBE (1439827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569679)

There are numerous antitrust enforcements or investigations against European companies. Even ones with very hefty fines. The reason you don't hear about it is that this mostly isn't picked up by non European news agencies.

It isn't about it are "American" companies if that is what you are insinuating. I personally think it also has to do that in America companies get a way with a lot more (America is led by corporations imho) in the states and then they are confronted with a continent that put them more on a leash to more or less protect their citizens.

The warranty thing with Apple and Europe is for me a class book example.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569699)

The understandable US-centric bias of /. (and the wider international media) means that only stuff with a US/international element gets reported here.

It's also the case that there aren't that many EU-based abusive monopolies precisely because we've had sensible rules on this kind of thing for a long time, and companies know that they would find it difficult to get away with. We had (and still do have) plenty of national monopolies within the EU, but generally they are careful to keep (just) within the law or risk being broken up by national governments, or having their golden goose taken away by enforced increased competition.

Finally, I think there's slightly less desire in most of the EU to actively screw people over. Companies generally place less of an emphasis on the quarterly bottom line. Of course there are many exceptions, but most European businessmen view the traditional Anglo-American "zero sum" approach to business as short sighted at best, outright sociopathic at worst.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569833)

If it's a suit in the EU against an EU company, with manufacturing distribution and sales in the EU then we won't hear about it here because it's a local thing. Much like local fights about water use rules for Boise, Idaho don't make the front page of /. If it has to do with Microsoft, Novell, or some other big multinational company, then it may come to the fore. Or not. Based on how relevant it is. The rule is "news for nerds, stuff that matters" and the rule is pretty bendy.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569847)

Is it really that case that no corporations inside the EU are big enough to be anti-competitive?

It's because no corporations operating solely inside the EU are big enough for us to give a fuck about.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570845)

Actually, it is because no corporations operating solely inside the EU are relevant to readers in the US.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570909)

Actually, it is because no corporations operating solely inside the EU are relevant to readers in the US.

What's the difference? The bigger you get the more global your implications become. Any company in the EU big enough to affect us already has offices here, which pretty much proves the point.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39571547)

The difference is your attitude.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569859)

It's a matter of what your local newspapers think is important, US ones carry US interest, Danish carries Danish interest. We (Denmark) have had quite a bit of fun being whacked over the head for our shady business practices...

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570023)

Why is it that the only antitrust enforcement I hear about in the EU is against non-EU based companies?

Good question. And why is it that the cases I hear about of abuses of justice against tourists are all about British tourists? I suppose it could be an international conspiracy or it could be that I receive primarily British news which talks about British people. Hmmmm... which could it be?

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570061)

Why is it that the only antitrust enforcement I hear about in the EU is against non-EU based companies?

Technically every enforcement action is against an EU based corporation - in order to legally do trade within the EU, you need an EU corporate presence. The European Commission regulates violations of trade law within the EU. The EU didn't levy fines against Microsoft US for antitrust violations within the borders of the United States, it levied fines against Microsoft Europe [microsoft.eu] for antitrust violations within the EU borders.

I would guess that you haven't heard about other enforcement actions because you don't read the EU antitrust news? You chose to read US oriented news, which doesn't report on enforcement actions of foreign regulatory bodies against foreign companies? Also, the EU is made up of many nation states, each of which has its own antitrust regulatory body. The EU only gets involved in antitrust when the scale of the illegal activity exceeds the ability of the national courts to handle, or where the national courts have erred or require clarification. This is usually difficult cases, or those with international scope that involve large transnational corporations. EU-level enforcement actions are, by their nature, more likely to be against a large corporation trading internationally, which for tax and trade reasons may well be headquartered in the U.S. (although increasingly companies are choosing to be headquartered in Ireland or Luxembourg for tax purposes, see Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Is it really that case that no corporations inside the EU are big enough to be anti-competitive?

The EU have issued over €12 billion of fines in the last 5 years against illegal cartels. How many of those cases did you read about in the U.S. press? This is not some conspiracy - it is entirely understandable, their readers (Americans) generally don't care about the EU fining a Belgian glass manufacturer, or Frankfurt Airport. They only feel an emotional connection when the target of the fine is the subsidiary of a U.S. corporation.
2011/03/03 Siemens AG fined €397 million by EU antitrust [reuters.com]
2012/03/29 Telefonica fined €152 million. [bloomberg.com]
2011/10/25 Solvay fined €23 million [businessweek.com]
2011/06/22 Telekomunikacja Polska S.A €127 million [europa.eu]
2008/11/12 Largest every cartel fine from the EU - over €1.3 billion against a Japanese/US/English/Belgian cartel. [europa.eu]

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570141)

Technically every enforcement action is against an EU based corporation - in order to legally do trade within the EU, you need an EU corporate presence.

That definitely isn't true as stated. It's perfectly legal for a US citizen to transact business within the EU without incorporating anything. I suppose it is possible that it's actually illegal for a US incorporated company to transact business directly with an EU incorporated company (which is a lot less than what you were originally claiming) but I think that too is very unlikely.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570317)

You're being a pedantic prick. It's obvious he's talking about trading entities, and not an individual buying a product.

As soon as you have a trading presence in the EU, regardless of whether it's a store, wearhouse, or token satellite office, you have to obay the trading laws of the land. Don't like it? Fuck off elsewhere, you won't be missed.

Because you're in the USA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570069)

There are more and bigger antitrust enforcements in the EU against European companies, but you don't hear about them in the US media because it's not about the USA.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570849)

Very simple. Motorola is a US company, and the EU is xenophobic. Anything US made is fair game so the EU's muckety-mucks can show they are actually doing something to justify their existance. This is why they threw roadblocks in Google's way during the Google/Motorola Mobility merger, and now are doing investigations on Moto's patents. Ironically, this is not counting the FRAND encumberances, which Motorola has to deal with left and right.

All this time, Apple with its "take no prisoners" policy is completely escaping any and all scrutiny with the way they use their patents. Motorola licenses their patents; Apple plays for keeps and wants companies shut down.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571313)

Last I checked, the EU was more often to bring American companies to trial, and then when a verdict was given, they would apply a much higher fine than average. It's all on their website if you care to look. I haven't checked in the past couple of years, but that was the trend when I did check for myself.

Re:Any monopopies inside the EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39572397)

FUD. Or I could say that's because American companies don't adapt to existing laws and rather wait until they are fined. That's part of their culture. An equally unfounded statement?

Android's war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569631)

Samsung was also warned by the EU that their patent attacks on Apple might violate antitrust laws.

It's interesting how the Android manufacturers cry about patent abuse when it is THEY who are running afoul of the laws.

Re:Android's war (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569713)

It's interesting how the Android manufacturers cry about patent abuse when it is THEY who are running afoul of the laws.

It's interesting, isn't it?

A new, freely available, open OS is pitched against a couple of fat, predatory incumbents well versed in manipulating public bodies, and suffers occasional setbacks. Each time though, the predators have to show a little more of their weaponry. Patents (like FAT long filenames) used in standover tactics are being invalidated, Astroturf and committee rigging is being exposed and ridiculed.

There may, as you say, be a few setbacks on the way, but few of us would doubt we're witnessing the death struggles of dinosaurs. It's about time.

Re:Android's war (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39569921)

There may, as you say, be a few setbacks on the way, but few of us would doubt we're witnessing the death struggles of dinosaurs. It's about time.

Yes, like Motorola. The once noble manufacturer now reduced to making bizarre demands for FRAND-pledged patents.

FRAND demands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570273)

You mean like "do as the others licensing this stuff does"?

Or do you mean the apple-meaning of FRAND: Let us decide what we pay for it.

PS to the posters and repeaters of "Motorola's actions have not been Fair, Reasonable, nor Non Discriminatory. They have targeted specific companies (that's discriminatory) with excessive licensing demands (ranging from 2.25% up to "your entire non-FRAND patent portfolio" which is not reasonable), all of which is not fair."

Please show that the the actions have not been fair, reasonable or been discriminatory.

After all, I can't afford the patent. That's not fair. And they won't even pass me the contract, that's discrimination.

Problem here is that one company doesn't want (or doesn't HAVE) any mobile phone patents worthy of putting in the pool that all the other FRAND licensees have and did. This other company would rather rate the value of the patents they DO have (on non-essential functionality) above the patents already in the pool, refuse to allow the others to freely license these patents and thereby not pay the same rates as the others.

There is, however, another way to get the patents: don't join the FRAND license pool and buy them under non FRAND rules.

Re:FRAND demands? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570327)

There is, however, another way to get the patents: don't join the FRAND license pool and buy them under non FRAND rules.

I can see why you didn't log in! Your post is almost totally devoid of facts.

You also seem to be totally ignorant of how FRAND patent licensing works as it relates to its use in international standards like GSM, WiFi, etc.

Re:FRAND demands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39571261)

Hey Ho Jam. Why don't you do some 'splainin then?

Who is behind it? (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569639)

We all know who is behind the complaint, and pretending we don't know slows justice. Did they remember to filter their involvement through a proxy like RBC again? Who knows, or cares. It's all transparent at this point. Did they remember to engage their plausible deniability?

Frankly I don't care any more. The base problem is patent and copyright. If Y'all won't fix the real problem you're doomed to deal with the derivaties of your lack. That's just how it is.

Do away with copyrights and patents and all these suits are moot. Me and the judges can toddle on down to the corner tav for some beers.

Re:Who is behind it? (2)

jbernardo (1014507) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569703)

Well, it sure smells funny. In particular after seeing how the companies that have pressed for this investigation have been trying to lobby MEPs. [falkvinge.net] Maybe in the end they found out that it is easier to sway the commission than the parliament...

Re:Who is behind it? (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569895)

Lobbying the law enforcement agencies to investigate others seems to be the most effective use of a lobbyists time. Get 'em to just look will slow the opposition quite a bit, and a full-blown investigation will set their development back half a year. Microsoft, having been passed through the finest screen available, knows this quite well. They had to buy a Bush presidency to get clear of their antitrust investigation. Once upon a time Microsoft's policy was "we do business, and we let politicians do politics" but they got abused by other corps that worked the body politick to mess with Microsoft's business that Microsoft had to change that policy to compete. Unfortunately, you don't just refocus your Microsoft: they get bitter about such things.

They've learned their lesson well and put their lawyers into the DOJ so they have no worries on that now. There's nobody there now who cares to investigate them. But they forgot that out here we still demand progress, or they thought that didn't matter. Politicks matter, but they're not the only thing that matters. We still demand new tech. We expect it. They forgot that.

Re:Who is behind it? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570739)

They had to buy a Bush presidency to get clear of their antitrust investigation.

It doesn't work that way. They had to get in bed with the powers that be, including the Bushes. So now BillyG is beholden to even more powerful masters. Now he pushes western IP not just to protect his own rights but also for Big Pharma.

The moral of the story is about patent value. (0, Flamebait)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569845)

And so it is that we see the moral of the story:
Make sure all your patent are for wiggling your fingers when in contact with a screen displaying a picture, or for a shape first popularised in 300 BC.
Actually do expensive research and get patents that mean something, and they will label them "standards essential" and prosecute you when the wiggly fingers and rounded corners bunch try to shut you down.

Re:The moral of the story is about patent value. (4, Informative)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569969)

Actually do expensive research and get patents that mean something, and they will label them "standards essential"...

Um, you do realize that Motorola submitted those patents for inclusion in the industry standard and were accepted into the standard in return for an agreement to license them for FRAND terms. They weren't labeled, against their will, standards essential - they asked to be included in the industry standard.

Motorola isn't the victim here.

Re:The moral of the story is about patent value. (0)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570741)

He was appealing to what's fair rather than what's legal. I agree with him - certainly not all patents are equal with regards to how much technical meat is there, and it's ridiculous that junk, non-technical patents end up being a more powerful legal weapon just because they're not 'essential' to a standard.

Re:The moral of the story is about patent value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39575989)

Motorola has been pulling this shit for two decades. Those of us around for the dawn of celullar remember them pulling exactly the same stunt. We need to take their council out behind the barn and shoot them.

Overplayed their hand (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569943)

Motorola brought this on themselves. When you attempt to unfairly abuse FRAND patents against your market competition, you're eventually going to be investigated for anticompetitive behaviour. They abused their FRAND patents. They're being investigated. And they're going to be found guilty of anticompetitive behaviour and everyone knows it.

And we should be happy about that.

It doesn't matter what you think of Motorola, Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any other company. You may like or hate any of those companies - it doesn't matter. We should all be happy that Motorola's actions are going to be punished because this is precisely the sort of thing that limits innovation in an industry. This isn't about patents limiting innovation - this is about FRAND patents that are essential for involvement in an industry.

If you don't know what FRAND patents are, you should make an effort to understand them because understanding them is vital to understanding this situation.

FRAND patents are essential patents that are part of an industry standard that MUST be licensed to ANYONE who wishes to license them at _Fair, Reasonable, and Non Discriminatory_ rates. When a company gets a patent included in an industry standard, they agree to license them under FRAND terms.

Motorola's actions have not been Fair, Reasonable, nor Non Discriminatory. They have targeted specific companies (that's discriminatory) with excessive licensing demands (ranging from 2.25% up to "your entire non-FRAND patent portfolio" which is not reasonable), all of which is not fair.

You don't have to like or hate any company involved in this to recognize that Motorola is abusing their FRAND patents and everyone should want them to be punished for doing so.

They have abused their FRAND patents. They are being investigated. They will be found guilty of anticompetitive behaviour.

They overplayed their hand and now they are going to face the consequences.

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570025)

the patents they hold are for telecoms standards related radio tech and h264. it wouldn't be too far fetched to say that the valuable patents were ejected from the sinking ship motorola mobility is, along with the profitable sections of the company.

then they just happened to find google to buy them. suckers.

Re:Overplayed their hand (0)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570047)

The funny thing about it is, in this case, Microsoft is accusing Motorola of *exactly the same behavior* that Microsoft itself is accused of, in the B&N Nook case. And interestingly enough, the B&N Nook just happens to use Android. Hypocrisy much, MS?

Re:Overplayed their hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570229)

Nope.

Microsoft's patents aren't FRAND in that case.

Re:Overplayed their hand (4, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570347)

Not at all. MS's patents in that case are not FRAND covered and are not part of a standard.

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570143)

"When a company gets a patent included in an industry standard, they agree to license them under FRAND terms." [citation needed]

"They have targeted specific companies (that's discriminatory) with excessive licensing demands"

But have they? If they say: "here is the standard licensing terms that everyone else has agreed to" and you say "that's not acceptable, we want a better deal", how is that Motorola being unfair or discriminatory.

Re:Overplayed their hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39572423)

"When a company gets a patent included in an industry standard, they agree to license them under FRAND terms." [citation needed]

"They have targeted specific companies (that's discriminatory) with excessive licensing demands"

But have they? If they say: "here is the standard licensing terms that everyone else has agreed to" and you say "that's not acceptable, we want a better deal", how is that Motorola being unfair or discriminatory.

And if Motorola donates all its profits for the benefit of puppies and kittens, how could it possibly be evil?

Simple, because according to the complaint, that's not what MotoGoogle has done. Moto has tried to use its supposedly-FRAND patents defensively against other patent suits.

Of course, the complaint may be a total fabrication--but that's why this is an investigation. To find out what is going on, and take corrective action if needed.

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39574569)

"When a company gets a patent included in an industry standard, they agree to license them under FRAND terms." [citation needed]

I don't know if that's true in general, but in this particular case Motorola has actually signed a legal document to that effect. I've made a more detailed analysis with references to patents and other documents in question in a past post [slashdot.org] .

Re:Overplayed their hand (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570199)

The problem is that the patents being leveraged against companies like Motorola are patents that don't require much R&D and so don't require a standards committee to come up with, but similarly aren't covered by FRAND as a result.

Many of the things companies like Apple and Microsoft are using against their competitors are just as important to computing and particularly in the case of Apple, modern interaction, but don't have the FRAND badge.

So you've got this absurd situation where Apple can prevent companies like Motorola using tech that is pretty essential to a modern smartphone, but Motorola is barred from doing the same - even though Motorola's patents required a far bigger R&D investment to come up with for the most part.

Until Apple entered the phone market, all other phone manufacturers got along pretty well with patents. The whole patent cluster fuck in the market now is entirely on Apple. Motorola, Sony-Ericcson, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and so on all got along pretty well until Apple came and fucked things up in the market. What incentive is there for companies with the talent and experience to produce new wireless standards to do so? they can't profit from those standards because of FRAND, and they can't use those standards in a product because Apple will prevent them doing so with some lame thing that shouldn't even be patentable. We sure as hell can't rely on Apple to produce new wireless standards, they can't even build a fucking antenna onto their handset properly.

It's really sad because Apple really shook up the phone market when they entered it, they forced other companies to adapt or die, and really pushed smartphone innovation in an incredible way. Now they're doing completely the opposite - they're killing smartphone innovation, and haven't done anything really worthwhile and innovative now since the original iPad.

So you can rant about FRAND abuse all you want, but all you're doing is making it clear that there's no point in companies putting effort into FRAND based standards in the first place because it puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Better to do things the Apple/Microsoft way and come up with unilateral standards that you force into the market place by abusing your market dominance, then sue other players who dare to try and use them to enter the marketplace too.

Ultimately the best thing Samsung, Nokia, HTC, etc. could do at this point is jointly develop their own standards without the FRAND badge, use their combined market weight to force them into the industry and refuse to license them to Apple, so that Apple can't even have a smartphone that works on future networks at all. It's apparently the way business has to be done now.

FRAND worked great when the market was full of mature and reasonable companies willing to maintain a degree of healthy competition and work together where it was necessary, but that isn't Apple, Apple is the child who wants the world to itself, and anyone else can get fucked, so FRAND no longer works. If Apple had brought it's innovations into the market and shared them with other phone companies in the same way phone companies share their fundamental wireless tech we'd all be better off, but again, that just isn't Apple.

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570491)

I agree with almost everything stated, but the idea that Apple has patents that required little R&D, but are still essential to the modern smart phone sure sounds like real innovation.

As a corollary, before the iPhone, most smart phones were phones first. Therefore, the patents related to the mobile technology were reasonably a larger share of the device's value. Comparing an iPhone with an iPod touch in terms of price suggests that the "phone" is about 50-60% of the iPhone's value. A fixed percentage of the device price for licensing is less reasonable.

Everybody got along before Apple got into the market, except for RIM, who was in a similar position as Apple would achieve.

Re:Overplayed their hand (5, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570495)

What nonsense.

FRAND works because you get a return on your investment - if your patent goes into the standard then *everyone needs to use it* so you are guaranteed a steady flow of income from your patent. The restriction on this is that as a condition for inclusion of the patent, you must licence it fairly to everyone who wants to use it. That is, you can't use that patent to keep a competitor out of the market, or charge them an outrageous fee etc.

Apple's patents *are not in a standard* and as such are not "pretty essential to a modern smartphone". They differ from FRAND patents because Apple is free to do what it likes with them (licence them, not licence them, charge more for them to company A, less to company B etc) but equally it has no guarantee that anyone will use them at all, since they are not an essential part of any standard that goes into making a smartphone.

You not need to contribute *anything* to be able to use FRAND patents. If I want to make and sell a phone then I do not need to have any patents of my own - I can simply assemble it from other patented technology that I am free to choose from (and pay for the use of those patents). However, what I am *not* free to choose are things that relate to a standard that is necessary for it to work as a phone (eg, GSM/3G/WiFi) - I *must* choose the patent package that covers those technologies whether I want to or not, and as such they are covered by a FRAND agreement to enable me to do so without Motorola saying "hmm, your phone is selling better than ours and we don;t like competition... that will be 2.5% of your revenue please".

Now, where it gets complicated is that companies often offer their own (non-FRAND) patents in cross licensing agreements in payment, but it is *not required*. You can pay in cash if you really want. You don't have to have something to trade if you want to use a FRAND patent.

It is not a competitive disadvantage to have a FRAND patent in a standard - it is quite the opposite, since it is a guaranteed and ongoing source of revenue. What you *cannot* do is then use that patent in violation of the terms of the agreement that you signed up for in exchange for its use by the standards body.

Ultimately the best thing Samsung, Nokia, HTC, etc. could do at this point is jointly develop their own standards without the FRAND badge, use their combined market weight to force them into the industry and refuse to license them to Apple, so that Apple can't even have a smartphone that works on future networks at all. It's apparently the way business has to be done now.

Wow. I mean... really.... wow. I'm not even... Fuck me.

So, they should make phones that don't work with the current cell tower infrastructure? Who's going to pay to tear down all those cell towers and replace them with new ones? Of course, this assumes that the international standards body that sets the standard will accept this cartel's new, incompatible standard. Or they could just make their own network, and be unable to interoperate with every other cellphone on earth. Sounds like a great business model!

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

http (589131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39573421)

Why is a standards body including chargeable, patented items in a standard in the first place?
Who do I have to pay to build a 1/8" audio plug?

Re:Overplayed their hand (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39575845)

Because where else do they get R&D for these things? Development of technologies isn't free, and it can't all come from government funded research etc.

Companies sink time and money into developing things that they can submit for use in a standard precisely because they can recoup the cost if it gets included. The FRAND system ensures that it is all fair for all.

I know we all want rainbows and sunshine and free shit handed to us on a plate, but it simply doesn't work that way for everything.

Re:Overplayed their hand (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571475)

So you've got this absurd situation where Apple can prevent companies like Motorola using tech that is pretty essential to a modern smartphone, but Motorola is barred from doing the same -

Is "slide to unlock" really essential to a modern smartphone? Who said "multitouch" was the only possible way of designing a touch UI? If its "pretty essential" for a modern smartphone to look and work pretty much like an iPhone then maybe Apple have a point about people stealing their ideas. Or manufacturers could think up new ways of doing these things. ISTR Samsung and Moto have already designed around some of Apple's UI patents - and others may get rejected as overbroad or knocked down by prior art.

On the other hand, what is completely essential for a modern smartphone is to be able to connect to standard mobile phone networks. That involves doing things exactly the way the standards decree they should be done, and if the standards body has deemed that a particular patent is required for the standard (by imposing a FRAND agreement), good luck convincing the court that your implementation doesn't violate. Also, as you rightly say, those patents are probably rather better founded than the typical Apple software or design patent.

they can't profit from those standards because of FRAND

You keep using that word FRAND. I don't think that it means what you think that it means. If you have a patent that's used in a standard under FRAND you can collect a reasonable fee from anybody who uses that standard. That's a cash cow worth having. Whether Apple have tried to avoid paying a reasonable fee or whether Moto have been trying to screw Apple by asking for an unreasonable fee or trying to double-dip by charging them for using chipsets from third parties who have already licensed the patent will (hopefully) come out in a few years' time when the lawyers have made enough money.

Apple, meanwhile, is under no obligation to license its patents to anybody because they're not used in any standard (even if they're crappy software patents which deserve to be struck down).

FRAND worked great when the market was full of mature and reasonable companies willing to maintain a degree of healthy competition and work together where it was necessary,

Translated: when the market was owned by a nice little group of companies who's mutual patent cross-licensing thicket kept out any upstart competitors. leaving them to complacently produce smartphones with hideous, unintuitive UIs... until Apple came along with a smartphone that consumers actually wanted to buy.

Re:Overplayed their hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39572763)

There is nothing essential about Apple's patents. If Apple gets a patent on a particular shade of the color blue, then just don't fucking use that shade of blue. Apple is not "holding back" innovation if innovation consists entirely of licensing Apple's silly look-and-feel patents and implementing them so that your product looks just like Apple's.

Make a goddamn phone with square corners! make a goddamn phone with beveled corners! Make a goddamn phone with flared corners!

On the other hand, you're basically arguing that Motorola and/or a cartel of other handset makers should form a cartel to control the phone market. Brilliant. What could possibly go wrong with that?

(Anyone remember iDEN? How did that work out for Motorola?)

Re:Overplayed their hand (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39570981)

One of the claims by Apple is that Motorola is double-dipping in requiring licenses for some patents. Apple claims that they don't have to license some of the patents as they were in the stock chips they bought from Qualcomm and those patents covered with Motorola's license with Qualcomm. An analogy is that consumers or PC manufacturers don't license SDRAM directly. They buy the memory from the memory manufacturers like Micron who are responsible for licensing the patents. The two areas that will decide this is Apple's agreement with Qualcomm and Motorola's license with Qualcomm.

Citation Needed (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39571675)

Motorola's actions have not been Fair, Reasonable, nor Non Discriminatory. They have targeted specific companies (that's discriminatory)

I haven't read anything about Motorola targeting specific companies. The only other company that I have heard speak out is Microsoft, and according to them they have been paying Motorola the same fees that Motorola has been asking of Apple. The rates may be unreasonable, but they are not discriminatory.

Re:Citation Needed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39571911)

Motorola tried to specifically require Qualcomm in a contract to exclude Apple from getting the same FRAND rates for Motorola's patents that everybody else was paying just so Motorola could try to pull this bullshit 2.25% fee. Blatantly anticompetitive behavior and almost certainly illegal.

Re:Citation Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39572511)

Do more research on the topic. You haven't read enough on the subject if you haven't read about how they've specifically targeted Apple for unfair and unreasonable license rates.

patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39570083)

Put the patents in the public domain, if the older patents are in everything then for the good of the technology and the future ideas that my be put forth from it.

There must be a point that the good of the future ideas out way the short term power from them.

()-()

Paying for Law (1)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39573033)

The more that governments, courts and lawyers get involved in the computer industry the higher the costs to the end user. Companies can not be in constant litigation or in taking steps to avoid legal entanglement without passing the cost to the end users one way or another. It doesn't matter if it is hardware, software, or simply regulating transmission or use of products all cost get passed on to the end users. The net may well be the one place where a wild, wild west mentality might be best for everyone concerned. There are also concerns about exactly what steers the law to go after one and not another. For example the punishment of spam operators is so sporadic and rare that it is legal tokenism. So who is to say that legal actions don't have politics behind them when prosecutions are rare?
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