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Samsung Offers Patent Cease-Fire in EU

Soulskill posted 1 year,1 day | from the rally-to-restore-innovation dept.

Patents 80

dryriver sends this quote from the BBC: "Samsung has said that it will stop taking rivals to court [in the E.U.] over certain patent infringements for the next five years. The white flag in the patent battle has been raised because the South Korean electronics firm faces a huge fine for alleged abuses of the system. The move could help end a long-running patent war between the world's largest mobile makers. The E.U. said that a resolution would bring 'clarity to the industry'. 'Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework,' the European Commission said in a statement. Standard essential patents refer to inventions recognised as being critical to implementing an industry standard technology. Examples of such technologies include the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a cellular standard at the heart of 3G data; and H.264, a video compression format used by YouTube, Blu-ray disks and Adobe Flash Player among others. The E.U. had accused the Samsung of stifling competition by bringing a series of SEP lawsuits against Apple and other rivals."

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The EU must like expensive toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174817)

Because Apple has obviously never abused patents.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174891)

Because Apple has obviously never abused patents.

Oh grow up.

Apple's patents can all be worked around. However Standards Essential Patents (as indicated by their very name) cannot.

This is why any company that abuses the ones they have (such as Samsung) is a big deal.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174993)

Nicely trolled, you've earned those mod points...

Reality is that we all know Apple is under protection from lawmakers and judiciary because of it's cooperation with intelligence gathering agencies. They'll never be prosecuted, or have their products banned, no matter how much they abuse the patent system.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175009)

retard much? look at the antitrust case over agency model pricing.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (3, Insightful)

fast turtle (1118037) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175001)

and the solution that would have been used is to invalidate the patents by the EU (nuclear option) if Samsung did not quit abusing. They've also been put on notice that any further abuse of SEP's will result in the patent being invalidated by the EU, thus ending any and all lawsuits in regards to said patents.

This has the benefit of informing the Corps that Abuse of the Courts and the System will no longer be tolerated while reducing the time and money wasted not only by the courts but the victims of the abuse. It does not impact lawyers directly other then by telling them that the gravy train has ended in the EU.

Now if the damn courts in the United States along with the congress would implement the same deal. Keeps patents valid while fixing the major problem with the system as it stands.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (4, Interesting)

currently_awake (1248758) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175123)

So they stop the abuse, once. Now change the system to stop ALL the abuse. Make mandatory generic licensing a requirement of the patent system. And set the royalty rates to prevent abuse (FRAND). This is the only way to allow the inventor to benefit but without holding back civilization by the unreasonable.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175421)

nd the solution that would have been used is to invalidate the patents by the EU (nuclear option) if Samsung did not quit abusing.

I think the threat of a 13.7 BILLION Euro fine was slightly more nuclear. Plus obviously any attempt to enforce these patents would be illegal, no matter whether the patents were valid or not.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (0)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | 1 year,1 day | (#45177011)

The solution would have been for Apple to be slapped, hard, when it started claiming that nobody could build tablets or phones anymore even though none of their patents were technically "essential". Then it would have never escalated to that point. However neither the US nor the EU managed to achieve even basic common sense with regards to Apples rampant abuse of the courts, and are focusing on the Korean company instead.

This coming after Obama stepped in personally to ensure Apple wouldn't have to pay up? It sends a bad message, a very bad message to the rest of the world indeed. Basically whichever company is "cooler" gets to win, no matter what the rules of the game were meant to be.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175339)

Oh, I know, How about Apple just withdraw Legalese and go back to making overpriced Consumer whitegoods? Samsung wouldn't be doing what it's doing if Apple would just let up and go about it's other business. Seriously, it's just lame to start (and profusely continue with) "Thermonuclear War" against both a core supplier AND a major SEP Patent holder in your field of manufacture then cry foul over being taken to task by said adversary forced to defend it's livelihood. As much as Apple's stupid patents can apparently be 'worked around', it doesn't translate to real life. Why don't you go sell a triangle with rounded corners... or perhaps sell yourself a Circle. I'm sure that's a practical sell.

We're all different and all but are you seriously going to tell me that you'd just "bend over and take it" as you're subjected to years of repeated abuse over stupid "look and feel" patents in every court on the planet with an open door?

Wake up to yourself. Samsung would Love to go back to doing what it's winning at already and stay well away from the Courts while doing so. How about Apple do the same? (...that's stay away from Court, winning thing is optional...) :|

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175741)

Samsung would Love to go back to doing what it's winning at already

Sure. Samsung would love to go back to copying Apple products without legal repercussions. They even released an iWatch before an iWatch was released!

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#45177443)

Apple started by copying xerox parc and still copies everyone else and takes credit for it and gets called innovative when they just copy

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | 1 year,11 hours | (#45179601)

They even released an iWatch before an iWatch was released!

It looks like they should have waited.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175673)

Apple isn't much better with their frivolous and overbroad design patents. Why agree to SEP terms when you can just sue everyone who makes rectangles with rounded corners?

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (1)

AftanGustur (7715) | 1 year,6 hours | (#45180645)

Apple's patents can all be worked around.

Oh, really?

"Round Corners"

How are you going to design around that one Sherlock?

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (2)

whisper_jeff (680366) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175137)

Never abused SEP patents covered by FRAND promises. No. They haven't.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175649)

Honestly the rabid Apple hatred is astounding. Considering how much Google and Samsung throw their weight around, it's amazing you so called open source free software guys can keep defending them.

Re:The EU must like expensive toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#45177463)

Honestly the rabid Samsung hatred is astounding. considered how much Apple and Microsoft throw their weight around, It's amazing you so called open source free software guys can keep defending them.

What's the point of a patent then? (0, Redundant)

TomR teh Pirate (1554037) | 1 year,1 day | (#45174841)

I'm no fan of the patent wars, but if Samsung played by the rules and filed for patents on the technology before somebody else did, then I don't see how they can be fined for using the legal leverage that goes along with it. By comparison, we saw Apple suing for something as trivial as similarly-shaped corners on its competitor's smart phones. Maybe there's an argument here that any technology described by something such as an IEEE standard is automatically ineligible for patent application. This would seem though like it begs for de facto standards rather than real standards, where the winning patent gets to stifle its competition. How expensive would phones be if micro USB were a single manufacturer's spec to be licensed rather than some industry-agreed standard?

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

am 2k (217885) | 1 year,1 day | (#45174981)

I'm no fan of the patent wars, but if Samsung played by the rules and filed for patents on the technology before somebody else did, then I don't see how they can be fined for using the legal leverage that goes along with it.

I agree, so maybe it's the system that's broken, and the EU is trying to patch around it (however, since they're still politicians, they most likely won't fix the underlying issue).

How expensive would phones be if micro USB were a single manufacturer's spec to be licensed rather than some industry-agreed standard?

Just like it happened with FireWire, nobody would use it.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

Urkki (668283) | 1 year,1 day | (#45174987)

I'm no fan of the patent wars, but if Samsung played by the rules...

Yeah, but the rules for Standards Essential Patents are a bit different, because anti-competitive behaviour laws enter the picture much more easily. And then things quickly get very complicated, I think the general intent of EU here is: play fair with SEP, agree on a fair licensing price, work it out, or else...

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175231)

What I'm wondering, is if the patents are so essential to an industry, why doesn't the government just come in and say "Hey Samsung, we're taking your patent. You are free to continue to use it without paying us any licensing fees, but we will also license it out to who ever we choose"? What is the benefit of letting Samsung keep the patent vs the method I just described?

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (3, Insightful)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175297)

Some people consider nationalisation of private property to be a pretty drastic measure.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (3, Interesting)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | 1 year,1 day | (#45176529)

Some people consider nationalisation of private property to be a pretty drastic measure.

Sure, and that would be relevant if we were talking about private property, as opposed to patents.

On the other hand, far too many people don't seem to have a problem with nationalization of actual private property in the form of, say, taxable income, so perhaps the underlying premise is incorrect. If they can nationalize part of your income, which is your by natural right, they can certainly nationalize a few patents which only exist by their say-so in the first place.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45178077)

Legally, patents are property. That doesn't mean I agree or disagree with the concept of intellectual property - more it's a different discussion. The equivocation you've drawn, with taxes and patents, can lead down a pretty dark road. Why should anyone be allowed to own anything that has both existed before and will exist long after the demise of the property holder?

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | 1 year,9 hours | (#45179889)

I have to agree there. Patent law as it applies to an inventor as opposed to a corporation, which is lifeless, and potentially very long lived (read: centuries), has twisted the original intent of a patent and it's purpose. As to governments taking a FRAND patent from the owner, it would also discourage any company from entering their patents as FRAND patents. This is done voluntarily now. If a government forced a company to surrender such patents, then the industry overall would suffer.

Misguided android fanboi defenses aside, a FRAND patent is an entirely different animal. Samsung was demanding cross licensing of choice non-frand patents from competitors in order to license FRAND, and they were caught, and reprimanded. This I agree with completely. They were also caught with confidential court documents, leveraging the licensing info in them against competitors. You would do better to choose a better cause to champion. They are hardly the industry leader in exceptional and above-board behavior.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

rsborg (111459) | 1 year,13 hours | (#45179437)

On the other hand, far too many people don't seem to have a problem with nationalization of actual private property in the form of, say, taxable income, so perhaps the underlying premise is incorrect. If they can nationalize part of your income, which is your by natural right, they can certainly nationalize a few patents which only exist by their say-so in the first place.

Something just doesn't sit right in your analogy - in this case, nationalization of "property/cash" (aka tax) isn't a judicial punitive measure, it's a generally agreed-upon, and well known code. The best way is for them to both fine Samsung and invalidate their patents. That's well in their power, since patents are just government granted monopolies (supposedly time-limited, but there are ways around that).

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 hours | (#45179597)

Patents are given by the government. They are "nationalised" by default, and privatised through a special government exception.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | 1 year,11 hours | (#45179609)

That's an incredibly tortured attempt to bring two unrelated fields together - as you well know from your need to use quotes.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175457)

What I'm wondering, is if the patents are so essential to an industry, why doesn't the government just come in and say "Hey Samsung, we're taking your patent. You are free to continue to use it without paying us any licensing fees, but we will also license it out to who ever we choose"? What is the benefit of letting Samsung keep the patent vs the method I just described?

No, Samsung is supposed to get a fair and reasonable license fee for these patents. And standard essential patents are not standard essential by magic. They are standard essential because a standard was created that uses the patent, and the patent holder agreed to it being included in the standard.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175569)

That would be scary. I think what you meant to allude to was the government saying the patent is no longer valid and usable by everyone, rather than the government actually taking it for themselves and licensing it out.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45176467)

Um, no. In your scenario, everyone else benefits free of charge from Samsung's work. In mine, they still must pay a licensing fee. Please note that in mine, Samsung would not have to pay a licensing fee to the government.

So no, I meant exactly what I said.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | 1 year,1 day | (#45176951)

The point of the patent sytem is not to make people pay royalties, but to create an incentive for inventors -- if the inventor gets neither the royalties (by licensing the patent) nor the monopoly (by not licensing the patent), there's no incentive, no matter whether those using the patented invention make royalty payments to some other entity or not.

If you've already taken away the inventor's incentive, what possible reason is there for the government's licensing fee?

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45187631)

nor the monopoly (by not licensing the patent)

What monopoly? These are Standards Essential Patents we're talking about. And from what I gather in this thread, such patents are not allowed to not be licensed, they must be licensed at a reasonable rate.

You make it sound as if I want the government to hold all patents always, which is definitely not the case. I am focused just on Standards Essential Patents.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

Urkki (668283) | 1 year,1 day | (#45177091)

There (probably) are no laws which would allow that... I hope so at least.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

faffod (905810) | 1 year,18 hours | (#45178685)

It is not that Samsung's patents are "so essential" it is that Samsung chose to share their patents in the definition of a standard. In doing so they committed to licensing only those patents under FRAND terms. The remainder of their patent portfolio is theirs to license, or not, as they please. They may have an essential patent to curved glass and Apple will never be able to use it, that is fine. This only applies to the patents that were submitted to a standards pool with a contractual obligation to non-discriminatory licensing.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175503)

a design (eg trade dress) patent is different from a "invention" patent, and should not be talked about as if they were the same thing.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 hours | (#45179457)

Nobody's saying they're the same thing, faggot. They're pointing out the hypocrisy that Apple's patents are considered valid and Samsung's aren't.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (4, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,1 day | (#45177107)

You've actually just made the case against Samsung.

Samsung did some really good technical work, which almost everyone wanted to copy, so they agreed that the patents involved were "Standards Essential Patents" which would be licensed to everyone cheap. Changing their minds and saying "OK, everybody bat Apple can use those patents," was simply something they agreed they weren't allowed to do when they agreed to have the patents declared standards. Basically they were trying to force their #1 competitor out of their #1 market, and the legal system is not supposed to tolerate that shit. Just look at Apple and it's conviction for eBook price-fixing.

OTOH Apple did a bunch of decent technical work, and some truly mind-blowing design work. Then they sued people on the basis of the design patents. Since they never agreed not to do that, and it was trivial for Samsung to design it's way around said patents once they realized that courts enforce design patents, Samsung got it's ass reamed in court and nobody is worried that Samsung will be forced out of the smartphone market.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 hours | (#45178739)

Wow
Pass me some of that cool aide please.

Apple are the teabaggers in this situation, they refuse to pay the fees required and just refuse to negotiate.

Changing their minds and saying "OK, everybody bat Apple can use those patents

They have never ever said this, all the court cases are not about apple using the patents, they are about apple not paying the fee. Samsung would love Apple to pay and use those patents.

it was trivial for Samsung to design it's way around said patents

Then clearly the patents should never have existed in the first place. Save everybody the time and effort and money of doing the same thing 10 different ways.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | 1 year,11 hours | (#45179615)

A design patent covers the appearance of a product only, so it's really more like a trademark. The goal is to protect their signature look from copying. You don't have to invent new technology to get around the patents, you just have to make it look different.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,12 hours | (#45179491)

OTOH Apple did a bunch of decent technical work, and some truly mind-blowing design work. Then they sued people on the basis of the design patents. Since they never agreed not to do that, and it was trivial for Samsung to design it's way around said patents once they realized that courts enforce design patents, Samsung got it's ass reamed in court and nobody is worried that Samsung will be forced out of the smartphone market.

As an example of working around design patents, look at Samsung Galaxy S3 and later. You always hear the "Apple patented rounded rectangles" brigade screaming, but fact is that the S3 with its rounded corners does _not_ infringe on Apple's design patent, and Samsung actually has its own "rounded corner" design patent for the S3, so if Apple (fat chance) or anyone else copied it, Samsung could successfully sue them.

Re:What's the point of a patent then? (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | 1 year,9 hours | (#45179875)

Samsung did some really good technical work, which almost everyone wanted to copy, so they agreed that the patents involved were "Standards Essential Patents"...

That's not quite accurate.

Samsung did some really good technical R&D work. The industry's standards body was establishing an industry standard and asked companies to suggest ideas for inclusion in this standard. Samsung, along with other companies, offered their technology into this industry standards process, all with the promise of offering their patents under FRAND terms. The standard was established.

The patents didn't become a Standards Essential Patent because everyone used it. It became SEP because Samsung offered it for use in the industry standard technology _AND THEN_ everyone used it.

The most common misconception on Slashdot is that Samsung is being punished for making a popular patent that became an industry standard. It is very important to understand that this is not the case. They _offered_ their patents up for inclusion in a standards setting process and everyone uses those patents now because they were accepted into the technology. They are popular patents _because_ they were included into the standards essential technology.

The rest of your post, however, is spot-on.

no surrender here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174871)

"that agrees to a particular licensing framework" - so it's not a surrender at all. It's actually just a new price.

Of course, Apple hasn't agreed to a ceasefire either. This is just a non-story.

Re: no surrender here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175267)

If Samsung doesnt surrender and that means stopping the abuse of SEP by denying FRAND terms for licenses, they can be fined up to 18 billion dollar.

It is a story. And they have surrendered.

Re:no surrender here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45176587)

Apple hasn't filed any lawsuits over SEP/FRAND patents. They have previously stated that they won't do so.

Better luck next time.

Re:no surrender here (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,23 hours | (#45177113)

Strictly speaking it's not a new price. It's the old price they have always been legally required to charge their competitors for these particular patents.

The entire issue here is that they agreed to license these patents on very liberal terms as a way to get everyone using their tech, and then when they realized that one of their competitors had better tech then them (Apple) they tried to take that deal away from that competitor.

Damdung (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174877)

Since when did Slashdot turn into the online hangout of choice for faggots, trannies, and other abominations of nature? Kick the politically correct crybaby faggots out.

Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174897)

We'll volunteer to submarine all the companies that let their guard down in 5 years time.

It's a trap! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45174927)

Samsung has said that it will stop taking rivals to court [in the E.U.] over certain patent infringements for the next five years

Uuh, yeah, and what happpens after those five years? Your competitors have taken advantage of those five years to freely produce products with these patents, and all of a sudden your promise of no legal action runs out. Do they A) completely dump all of those products and start equivalent technologies from scratch, B) grudgingly stump up for renewed licenses or C) give Samsung the finger and get sued to bits for no longer having a license?

You're basically promising a five year grace period to make money while they can before you start collecting on that expanded portfolio of products which their customers are now quite used to thank you very much.

Re:It's a trap! (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,23 hours | (#45177133)

So many ACs who don't understand the issue.

The patents they're taking about are "Standards Essential patents." Samsung long-ago agreed to license those patents on very good terms to anyone wanted to use them. This was a way to get their tech in pretty much every phone built. Then they realized their phones were such close copies of iPhone that they cou7ld not sell them, and they decided to sue Apple on the basis of these patents.

In other words they were NEVER allowed to sue anyone using these patents as long as that company paid the Standard fees. They are not going to be able to jack up the price, or suddenly sue people in five years because if they did they'd be forced into another one of these agreements.

Re:It's a trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 hours | (#45179295)

iphone is a copy of lg prada and should never have been sold

Licensing framework (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175013)

I think the key phrase here is "to any company to agrees to a particular licensing framework", i.e. I won't attempt to break my FRAND obligation if you give me your non-SEPs.

Re:Licensing framework (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | 1 year,9 hours | (#45179937)

Requiring cross licensing as a condition of licensing a FRAND would violate the (F)air and (Reasonable) piece of the puzzle. By their very nature, only one company can own a patent, so every person wanting to license FRAND patents can't offer the same cross licensing. Allowing a FRAND owner to pick and choose the cross licensed patents they require in order to license a FRAND patent is by it's very nature, anticompetitive. Although a company might opt to cross license, it cannot be made a condition of licensing a FRAND patent.

It would require a company surrender any competitive via surrendering their standard patents in order to cross license FRAND patents. This is exactly what Samsung was doing. Samsung was slapped down for extorting from competitors via it's FRAND patents in order for them to enter the market.

Just wait (1)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175031)

The Korean govt. will likely put some debilitating tariffs and import restrictions in place that pertain to EU goods in order to force the same ends that the patent wars were meant to accomplish.

Re:Just wait (1)

Theovon (109752) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175165)

Sure, but all that will do is limit the supply of goods to one relatively limited Asian market, right? I mean, Korea is pretty big, but not as big as the EU or China.

Re:Just wait (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,23 hours | (#45177153)

Korea is smaller then either four individual countries in the EU. It's 1/10 the population of the EU. It's economy is based on exporting shit.

The Koreans do not win a tariff battle with the EU. The US and Japan might be able to force a draw in a tariff battle with the EU. But nobody else could win a tariff battle with the EU. It is a bigger economic bloc then the US.

Re:Just wait (1)

toQDuj (806112) | about a year ago | (#45184323)

FYI, the EU consists of quite a few countries, not just four.

Re:Just wait (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175501)

That's like featherweight champion telling Tyson in his prime he could kick his ass in the ring. It's not a very smart move. Especially considering that South Korea is far more reliant on exports to EU than vice versa due to economic structure of each country.

What we'll likely (not) see, but what will happen behind the closed doors is diplomatic wrangling with some member states to put pressure on European Commission. Impact of such action would be far more limited on both ends, and will give South Korean government a pretense to give Samsung that "we tried our best".

For those who don't know, large conglomerates like Samsung are basically a state within state in South Korea and they have immense power in government actions. But not so much as to sink the country in a severe diplomatic and economic row with one of the most if not the most important trading partner.

Translation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175097)

The EU is about to notice that the patent system is broken and before they take the next step and even consider fixing it, we'll just lie low 'til they got there attention elsewhere, the LAST thing we need is them finding out that 9 out of 10 of our patents are for trivialities which could lead them to invalidate them.

Re:Translation (2)

akozakie (633875) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175733)

Actually the existence of SEPs itself is a sign of a broken system - if a patent is essential to entering the market in an entire industry, how the HELL is it still valid?! Patents are there to provide a head start for the inventor (or whoever owns the patent or a licence), nothing more.

This is a result of two colliding processes. The patent owners (as with all other IP) would love to have their exclusive rights last longer and will lobby for it. At the same time the world has been constantly speeding up. Design, production, even distribution are a lot faster now. This means that the power of a patent grew a lot. Unfortunately, this effect is different in different industries (*).

Consumer electronics is one field where patents should last a LOT shorter. Barrier to entry is way too high for an individual inventor to enter the market based on one patent anyway, so most patents will be used by existing companies. In this situation new technology can be brought to market quickly and sold worldwide. Why grant 10 or 20 years of exclusive rights for a technology which will be outdated in 5?
A patent should last long enough to enter the market, maybe get a significant market share... not build a new large market from scratch - that should never happen entirely without competition if the words "free market" have any meaning at all.

However, there are still industry fields where 10 years is a short period. Basically, field-invariant patent law is worthless.

(*) The same goes for copyrights. Immediate distribution. Quick printing/production/whatever. Instant access through the internet. Whether your IP-protected product is a song, a book, a movie or whatever, you can now reach a market bigger than ever almost immediately. So, why grant so many years of protection? It's a monopolistic perversion of the IP law's original intent. The protection period grows all the time, while changes in technology dictate that it should actually be reduced.

Re:Translation (1)

faffod (905810) | 1 year,18 hours | (#45178735)

A patent may be essential to entering a market and as a result will allow the owner a complete lock on that market. E.g. Viagra. Pfizer owns the patent on that and the only way for someone to enter the ED market is to create something completely different. Patents explicitly allow for an owner to completely lock the market for themselves. [Note: this is not a discussion about if this is over all good or bad for creativity]

Standard essential patents [SEP] are different. When a standard is being defined, patent owners may chose to submit their patents into the standard definition. In doing so they guarantee that every implementation of that standard will have to pay them a share of the royalties. Choosing to withhold their patents will probably result in the standard finding workarounds and likely will result in no one licensing the patent. Because the SEP is essential to standard, the standard committee only accepts the patents under the promise that they will be licensed under FRAND terms. Otherwise a patent holder could wait for a standard to become ubiquitous (with others paying for its deployment) and then choke the industry with licensing terms that did not reflect their effort to build the market for the patent.

Samsung was using SEPs that were committed to FRAND licensing, and that is the specific no-no that is being addressed here.

If they have essential patents to curved glass, or anything else that hasn't been submitted to a SEP, they are free to lock out that market for themselves. [Once again, this is a comment on the state of our laws, not validation of the existing patent system]

Yeah, But... (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175107)

"We agree to stop abusing SEP patents for five years. And then, once those five years have passed, we will return to abusing them as we have which lead us to this point."

How about Samsung stop abusing SEP patents and honour their FRAND promises. Period.

They're offer appears nice, on the face of things, but it is hollow in the long run. The EU response should be simple - you've broken your FRAND promises and abused your SEP patents. You are fined an enormous amount and if it happens again, you will be fined an enormous amount again until you understand that FRAND promises are vital to the industry's ability to grow and develop and breaking those promises undermines the entire foundation of Standards Essential Patents. Stop abusing them - drop every single SEP-based lawsuit against every manufacturer and do not launch another lawsuit seeking damages nor injunctions for SEP patents ever again - or be fined. Period.

So long as manufacturers can wield SEP patents that are covered by FRAND promises as a weapon, there's serious damage being done to the industry. If you want to use your patent as a weapon against your fellow manufacturers, don't offer them up to a standards body for inclusion in an industry standard and don't promise to license them under FRAND terms. You are under no obligation to do so. This situation isn't forced upon you. There are reasons companies want their patents in an industry standard, even with the FRAND limitations, and there are reasons companies want to keep patents close to their chest. Pick one. You can't have both. Attempting to have both is an abuse of SEP patents and a breach of FRAND promises.

Re:Yeah, But... (0)

whoever57 (658626) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175491)

drop every single SEP-based lawsuit against every manufacturer and do not launch another lawsuit seeking damages nor injunctions for SEP patents ever again - or be fined. Period.

And let every manufacturer make products in violation of those SE patents without paying royalties in the knowledge that there will be no consequences for this? You know that the "F" in FRAND does not stand for "Free", right?

Re:Yeah, But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 hours | (#45179271)

Applefags thinks that F in FRAND means Free

Re:Yeah, But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 hours | (#45178773)

Then why develop standards in the first place?
That time would be better spend making your corners round, or bouncy things.
Im sure we will all benefit if our phones are not compatible between different brands and carriers, because we will have so many new shapes of phone. You know, the important stuff.

Non-story (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45175119)

Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework

Which is basically how it works now.

Re:Non-story (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,23 hours | (#45177181)

In theory.

In practice if you piss them ioff by suing them they counter-sue your ass even if you paid the SEP fee.

FRAND seems like a happy case of... (3, Interesting)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | 1 year,1 day | (#45175359)

...prisoner's dilemma. Throwing your patents under FRAND means they are essentially not yours anymore; sure, you get paid something, but because of how "fair and reasonable" can be interpreted, it's probably really difficult to enforce anything. HOWEVER, if you do not do that, another company might offer a FRAND patent and turn that into an industry standard instead. And then you end up with a worthless patent.

It's good to know all our standards are only based on companies unable/unwilling to cooperate properly.

Re:FRAND seems like a happy case of... (1)

rsborg (111459) | 1 year,13 hours | (#45179451)

...prisoner's dilemma. Throwing your patents under FRAND means they are essentially not yours anymore; sure, you get paid something, but because of how "fair and reasonable" can be interpreted, it's probably really difficult to enforce anything. HOWEVER, if you do not do that, another company might offer a FRAND patent and turn that into an industry standard instead. And then you end up with a worthless patent.

Sounds like competitive bidding for including into the standard. Being part of a major standard will mean millions or billions of units, whereas if it's not included, it's pretty much up to your company to monetize on it's own.

Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in your own pond? Yet, not all that many companies are complaining about the situation.

Re:FRAND seems like a happy case of... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | 1 year,9 hours | (#45179851)

I know it's popular to imply that FRAND patents have no value but they have enormous value - they create a consistent, long term revenue stream since any company involved in the industry almost certainly will make use of that industry standard technology and thus will license the patent.

That enormous value is different from non-FRAND patents which have their value in being able to selectively license the patents or not, as you choose, and to license for whatever rate you and the other party can agree upon. That might result in people designing around your patent and you getting nothing at all or it might result in you earning a massive payday or prevent competitors from copying you.

FRAND and non-FRAND patents both have tremendous value but their value is different. When a company elects to offer their patent to a standards body for inclusion in a Standards Essential technology, they are electing to grain the long term, consistent licensing fees from a large number of companies licensing the patent. And that's incredibly valuable.

And "Fair and Reasonable" hasn't been difficult to interpret until Motorola and Samsung decided to selectively target companies (primarily Apple but also Microsoft and some others). If everyone abides by their FRAND promises, there is no problem. It's only a problem when a few start to break their FRAND promises.

Re:FRAND seems like a happy case of... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45188845)

That enormous value is different from non-FRAND patents which have their value in being able to selectively license the patents or not, as you choose, and to license for whatever rate you and the other party can agree upon. That might result in people designing around your patent and you getting nothing at all or it might result in you earning a massive payday or prevent competitors from copying you.

And don't forget that's often the desired goal as well - to get people to work around your patent so your product doesn't have a million identically-working competitors.

It can also be used to force innovation because having people work around patents can come up with more innovative ways to do things.

Android and iOS UIs are fundamentally different because of this as Google worked around Apple's patents by default, leading to such things like the home screen layout and app launcher. Which is better? Who knows, it's a user preference nowadays. But certainly better than everyone just having an iOS like interface now, isn't it?

Not Apple? (0)

Chuckstar (799005) | 1 year,22 hours | (#45177511)

Wait... I thought Apple was the only one abusing the patent system. Is it possible that the righteous indignation aimed against Apple should be aimed just as much against their competitors? Can't be.

Re:Not Apple? (0)

jonwil (467024) | 1 year,21 hours | (#45177947)

The reason Samsung is using its cellular technology SEP patents against Apple is that Apple (unlike basically every other mobile device company on the planet) refused to agree to the standard terms for licensing the patents (a broad cross-licensing deal). And then when Samsung offered an alternative that Samsung claimed was fair and reasonable (a per-unit royalty on devices) Apple rejected that too. Hence Samsung suing.

If Apple would agree to the same terms everyone else in the industry has licensed these Samsung patents at, this whole mess would go away.

Re: Not Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 hours | (#45178855)

You are incorrect. Samsung did not offer Apple the "normal" terms. They wanted multiple orders-of-magnitude more money than what is normally given for standards-essential patents; samsung would potentially make more money per phone than the actual manufacturer (ie the Microsoft model). There is also no obligation to cross license for SEPs.

Re: Not Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 hours | (#45179257)

You are a liar!

Abusing the system (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45178165)

It the first time for a while I consider something done by European Commission as good. But I wonder what law is used to define the abuse and to allow a fine. Perhaps it could be reused somewhere else.

Samsung disgusts me (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 hours | (#45178843)

Standarda essential patents aren't supposed to be used as a weapon in the first place. All Samsung us "offering" here is to say that they will stop trying to extort you if you'll let them copy your work.

If there's a company that's institutionally corrupted (in the ethical sense, I make no comments about finances, though I note also that Samsung execs have been convicted, not just investigated, for corruption crimes) it is Samsung.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tax-evasion-bribery-and-pricefixing-how-samsung-became-the-giant-that-ate-korea-8510588.html

They're even being sued by Dyson for stealing vacuum cleaner designs forchrissake.

All these knee jerk anti-apple ignoramuses talking on and on about how Samsung is better than Apple and is the only android manufacturer making money - do you know why? Because they are *cheating*.

If you believe Apple is an arrogant evil company - fine, go ahead. If you think Apple is an arrogant evil company and Samsung is a good alternative - you are a fool.

Re:Samsung disgusts me (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 hours | (#45179527)

Apple disgust me because they can't compete with better products instead of using the biased court system in USA and other countries

You are a fool if you believe what apple tells you is true

Re:Samsung disgusts me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45226613)

biased court system? compared to what, Korea?

is English your first language? the above poster didn't say you should "believe Apple". Heck, he said "arrogant and evil"? oh wait, are you being paid for this post?

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/taiwan-body-fines-samsung-defaming-local-rival-20665539

LOL

After this (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 hours | (#45179981)

FRAND is dead

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