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Seattle federal judge rules that developing standards is pretty much worthless

Imagine you are a company who has the expertise and experience to develop and patent crucial technologies that are subsequently embraced by your market segment.  You'd think that'd be the ticket to big royalties.  But you'd likely be wrong.

I. Local Judge Deals Big Win for Microsoft

In a ruling this week Federal Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington ruled that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) had to pay next to nothing -- a mere $1.8M USD -- to license Google Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola's portfolio of video and wireless patents, which likely cost tens of millions (if not more) to develop.  

At a courthouse in Seattle, just 16 miles east of Microsoft's Redmond campus, the home-court judge dealt the big win for Microsoft on Thursday.  The royalties ruling comes nearly in line with Microsoft's requested figure -- $1M USD -- and falls far from the $4B USD Google Inc. (GOOG) was hoping for.

Microsoft demands much higher royalties from phonemakers who use Google's Android platform.  In Q1 2013 Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) shipped 70.7 million Android smartphones, and reportedly paid a toll of $15 USD per handset -- indicating that Samsung alone may have paid Microsoft over a billion dollars in licensing royalties for the quarter.

Windows Phone movies
Microsoft has to pay virtually nothing to license Google's video codec patents, yet can demand billions from Android OEMs. [Image Source: WP Central]

Add in royalties from LG Electronics, Inc. (KSC:066570), ZTE Corp. (SHE:000063), and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) -- the second, fourth, and fifth largest Android phone sellers, respectively -- and Microsoft is likely making $1-1.5B USD or more from royalties alone.

While one can certainly argue the respective merits over Microsoft's largely API and UI based operating system portfolio versus Motorola's mobile firmware and codec centered patent portfolio in terms of good versus better, the court's ruling does not compare the portfolios in relative terms -- it gives Google orders of magnitude less.

One might argue that the Android OEMs should have challenged Microsoft's high licensing fees and took the case to court.  But Samsung learned first hand that outcome is often just as bad.  It was ordered to pay Apple, Inc. (AAPL) over a billion dollars in a Calif. jury verdict for three utility and three design patents.

II. Punish Those Who Cooperate

On the surface this all seems to suggest that Motorola and its fellow Android phonemakers' patents are pretty much worthless, while Microsoft and Apple have tapped some sort of special brilliance.  But on a deeper level it appears to be that the judge's ruling -- combined with Apple's Californian court win over Samsung -- give an effective ruling that cooperating among companies via the development of patented standards is basically worthless.

Historically patents developed as part of a standard and licensed under fair-reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms have had lower royalty rates, so there's no arguing that the amounts in question do have a historical basis.  What has changed, though, is the tremendous inflation in valuation of non-FRAND patents.  Decades ago non-FRAND patents might be worth up to 10 times more than FRAND patents, but carried risk in that you had to take the infringer to court and win.  Now with the value of non-FRAND patents worth around 1,000 times more than FRAND patents, that risk is essentially a moot point.

Every man for himself
Recent federal rulings have pretty much told the phone industry to adopt an "every man for himself" model and abandon cooperation. [Image Source: 123rf]

If FRAND patents are being licensed for approximately 1,000 times less than non-standards patents, it basically means that a company would be insane to cooperate with its peers.  It's an issue that we've discussed here before, and it's an issue that remains very real and provocative.

David Howard, Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel, bragged in a statement, "This decision is good for consumers because it ensures patented technology committed to standards remains affordable for everyone."

But ultimately if this precedent sticks in the U.S., the long-term outcome may be that there will be no more standards work and no more standards patents in the mobile industry (and potentially other industries as well).

That's bad news for Google, a company who has promoted cooperation and exchange of ideas in the smartphone industry.  The recent federal court verdicts seem to send a clear message to the smartphone industry -- every man for himself.  Google doesn't fit with that model, and is being punished to the tune of billions for trying to promote cooperation and equal licensing rates.

Because according to this and other recent rulings, FRAND patents are pretty much worthless, with similar patents not developed as part of a standard being around 1,000 times more valuable.

Google is appealing the decision.

Source: Reuters

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Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By Varun on 4/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By thatguy3444 on 4/26/2013 1:45:42 PM , Rating: 4
You are totally missing the point of the article - it is NOT a "who is better: microsoft or apple" article.

The author explicitly said that the award was completely in line with historical precedent. The point was that fees for non-standards patents have been vastly inflated. Therefore rulings like this remove any incentive to cooperate with other companies (lest your patents be ruled "standards" and become comparatively worthless).

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By Varun on 4/26/2013 2:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Well your patents can never be ruled standards - you'd have to be part of the process to make them a standard for that to happen.

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By JasonMick on 4/26/2013 3:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
Well your patents can never be ruled standards - you'd have to be part of the process to make them a standard for that to happen.
True, but the point, as the above op said, is that due to the ludicrous overvaluation in value of non-standards patents ($160M USD for a patent on a bouncing animation?), working cooperatively to develop standards is basically worthless. The only cost effective process at this is to refuse to do any kind of cooperative work (other than false flag efforts to throw off competitors cooperative efforts), to patent everything no matter how trivial, and sue the competition, and then to sue seeking ridiculous sums ($1B USD or more).

And yes, to your original point Microsoft and Apple have tried their hand at standards work, but most of this "help" involved thinly veiled attempts to stymie competitors products or to derail standards projects, e.g.:

Microsoft even has explicitly attacked an "open" approach to coding in recent ads:

Now if you have strong counterpoints, by all means present your information to the contrary, but to attack the premise on vague, unsupported generalities and misrepresentations is weak.

Seems like if anyone is trolling here, it is you.

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By inighthawki on 4/26/2013 3:49:57 PM , Rating: 3
Seems like if anyone is trolling here, it is you

Why does it seem like these days anyone who expresses a strong opinion on a matter is considered "trolling"?

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By Hieyeck on 4/29/2013 8:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
A strong opinion is just that - an opinion. It is no better than a weak opinion, until supported by facts. Unsubstantiated opinions whilst being loud about it is pretty much the definition of trolling.

By inighthawki on 5/1/2013 2:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
Not even close:

From wikipedia, first sentence:
In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /'tro?l/, /'tr?l/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3] The noun troll may also refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted."

An opinion, even if completely biased or lacking in facts or evidence is not necessarily trolling. If that were the case, every religion in the world has simply been "trolling" people for thousands of years. Whether you believe in religion or not, some do believe in the teachings and are certainly not trying to troll anyone.

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By Mint on 4/26/2013 4:02:34 PM , Rating: 5
$160M USD for a patent on a bouncing animation?
Didn't that recently get invalidated?

By wifiwolf on 4/28/2013 12:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but that was its value anyway

By JCheng on 4/26/2013 11:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
I would think most of these standards-participating companies (certainly Microsoft and Google) don't work on standards for the hopes of big royalties; but rather, are motivated to work on standards because they make possible or complement other products or features that they do hope will make money for them.

Though "patent everything no matter how trivial, and sue the competition, and then sue seeking ridiculous sums", yeah, that part is pretty accurate.

RE: Wow Mick is trolling for page clicks
By wallijonn on 4/26/2013 2:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
Companies can't join standards bodies, develop standards, and then extort them any more.

You mean like RAMBUS?

The price of litigation is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

By Varun on 4/26/2013 2:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
Actually RAMBUS is who I thought of when I was writing my response.

By Ushio01 on 4/26/2013 3:42:12 PM , Rating: 3
Google wanted 2.25% royalties for it's standard H.264 patents.

There are 25 other companies in the same standard body as Google plus Microsoft so if all 26 companies (excluding Microsoft) got 2.25% each that's 58.5% of the sale price of any product that uses H.264.

and you think this is a good idea... ARE YOU INSANE!

By Solandri on 4/26/2013 3:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but that's the way the system works right now. This study puts the average patent royalty rate in the electronics industry at 4.5%.

Here are the royalty rates being asked for by companies with patents deemed essential to LTE. They range from 0.8% to 3% (Motorola's requested 2.25% is towards the high end, but still within the range).

The same paper estimates that royalties on GSM phones account for 10%-40% of the handset price. So as much as I agree with you that it's insane, that's the way the system works right now. The judge's decision deviates from the industry and legal norm. While I applaud him for trying to change it for the better, if other judges in patent cases don't follow suit, it'll just wind up being a horribly unfair verdict against Motorola.

By vitp on 4/26/2013 4:20:43 PM , Rating: 2
There is one unusual thing that has happened with H.264. It is a proprietary standard for which company(-ies) can expect some royalties which was included in open standard HTML5 which was supposed to be royalty-free. From what I've read so far this was done after all companies owning patents related to H.264 agreed to make those patents available under heavily discounted royalties under FRAND. Maybe it would better to have truly open standard codec in open standard HTML5. Then this problem would not exist. All the examples related to phones are proprietary standard that were not included in any open standard.

By vitp on 4/26/2013 4:24:22 PM , Rating: 2
Those are good points. Also since H.264 included in HTML5, if the other side would prevail how it would impact independent browsers like Firefox and Opera, who'd have to pay more too?

By vXv on 4/26/2013 7:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
H264 is not included in HTML5. The HTML5 spec does not specify any codec exactly for this reason (patent law is a mess).

Yet again...
By Amiga500 on 4/26/2013 12:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
The judiciary* demonstrates its is worse than worthless to the wider world.

[Note: That is not specific to judges in the USA.]

*I hesitate to expand this to the wider legal system, as it does fulfill some very useful functions and serves as a deterrent to many would be criminals - particularly lower down the chain - but in the multinational business world - its impact is almost certainly a net negative.

Zero taxes paid, virtually no regard for the rights of their customers, scant attention paid to the rights of their workers, dubious IP practices everywhere. Is there much they do that is morally right? [Forget about legally right as most judges wouldn't know morally right from morally wrong if it smacked them repeatedly across the head with a bit of 2x4.]

RE: Yet again...
By BRB29 on 4/26/2013 12:46:45 PM , Rating: 2
The Judicial branch cannot make laws. This has to be passed through Congress.
I'm sure many judges knows these patent trolls are just abusing the system but they are only there to interpret and uphold the law. They cannot change the law.

RE: Yet again...
By Amiga500 on 4/26/2013 2:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure many judges knows these patent trolls are just abusing the system but they are only there to interpret and uphold the law.

You said it yourself - interpret the law. Was the law intended to do this, or was it not?

The answer is undoubtedly no - so once again the judge is at fault.

By messele on 4/26/2013 2:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
So am I the only one who spotted the irony in stealing two images to fuse together in photoshop then tagging it with some childish copyright logo? an article such as this?

RE: Irony++
By JasonMick on 4/26/2013 3:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
So am I the only one who spotted the irony in stealing two images to fuse together in photoshop then tagging it with some childish copyright logo? an article such as this?
Clearly you haven't heard of fair use??

If you're not from the U.S. I don't blame you, but if you are tsk tsk, know your laws better.

(And for the record that's not a copyright logo, it's the 2011-era version of my monogram that I've since upgraded to be more transparent and less obtrusive. But thank you for trolling have a good one!)

RE: Irony++
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/26/2013 3:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
One word : Troll

Isn't it obvious by now?

Article title is misleading
By vitp on 4/26/2013 4:29:36 PM , Rating: 5
It should be: non-FRAND patents are 1000x more valuable than FRAND patents. Motorola's non-FRAND patents are as valuable as Microsoft's and vice verse.

Frand is a special type of license
By ptmmac on 4/26/2013 6:18:05 PM , Rating: 4
I don't know why it has to be explained to you that Frand patents are patents that have given away property rights to a standards body so that they can be put together and made into a standard. The purpose of the standard is to lower costs for everyone rather than fighting over how to make several devices work together (such as a radio that functions as a telephone in a network). Motorola set up the system that Google is now trying to manipulate for their own benefit. Google is not synonymous with good. Motorola knew that they had made a serious business mistake by not creating some patents that were not standards essential that were necessary for a phone to operate. The problem is that 2 types of businesses have converged into the same market: cell phones and computers. Computers began their market with out a network built into the system. It was added later and thus many of the patents created for computers were not given to a frand consortium like most of Motorola's patents.

You are so sure that nothing Google does is wrong and nothing Microsoft or Apple have done is right that you missed the forest for the trees. Microsoft and Apple don't sell information about their customers to other businesses and governments. Google does do this. This doesn't matter as far as the law is concerned but it is one example of how Google does do "evil". I only mention this because your whole argument is based on the idea from a school yard argument that the law is somehow "Just not fair" because your team is losing this game.

Google does not get to rewrite the rules of the game just because it doesn't like them. Frand patents as offensive weapons in a battle of standards is just plain not allowed by long established practice in the cell phone and other technical businesses. The other red herring is the idea that somehow Apple and Microsoft are not innovating and so don't deserve the money they are getting from their non frand encumbered patents. Both Apple and Microsoft built the computer business for consumers and businesses over the last 30 years. They didn't use frand type patent constructs to streamline their business, they simply cross licensed all of their patents to each other instead. This was something that was a brilliant idea and has left both of them unencumbered with a broader type of patent license system. Google has been dumping free software in the market, not because they are high minded wonderful people. They did this to cut off income to their most obvious competitors. The idea that no one will ever add a patent to a Frand type of pool is silly. Some economic problems cannot be solved any other way. Just because your imagination can't figure out how someone can make money from a Frand licensed patent does not mean it can't be done. Google and Red Hat figured out 2 different ways to make money off of free software and no one thought that could be done back in the '90's.

I know that what I am saying is not going to change any minds here. I follow this website to see a different viewpoint and sometimes I get some good analysis. This is not one of those times. Frand is what it was made to be: a compromise among a large group of companies that created the cell phone industry. Google is going to have to live with this just like Apple and Microsoft have to live with Google's control of search. Reality and the law are what they are. Get over it and find some other cause to champion where you are not just barking at the moon.

By drlumen on 4/26/2013 2:08:15 PM , Rating: 1
I see this ruling being appealed and overturned. I really don't expect Motorola to get $4B but this ruling will stifle tech advancement and ultimately hurt the consumers.

I see more lawsuits coming from this ruling as well as every tom, dick and corp will try to patent each 'innovation' separately, overloading a woefully deficient patent office and causing even more patent trolling.

$1.8M? They are kidding right? I'm not saying they did but M$ could have easily paid the judge more than that!

RE: Appeal
By concernedreader on 4/26/2013 7:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
I read the judge's opinion, it is well written, well thought out and consistent. I think it will easily be upheld.

By concernedreader on 4/26/2013 7:32:06 PM , Rating: 3
To the author.

If you read the opinion ( I did) you will see that judge distinguishes between FRAND license fee's and patents that are not part of FRAND. Motorola voluntarily joined FRAND to create this standard along with hundreds of other companies, their contributions to the standard, while important, were minor and once they willing joined FRAND, they agreed to the nominal, fair licensing fee.

Microsoft patents that ANDROD requires were never part of an international standard, FRAND does not apply, and MS is free to negotiate any rate it can for their use.

Case closed, this was not, as you imply, the case of home town judicial bias

I present to you Jason Mick...resident moron
By althaz on 4/27/2013 2:11:25 AM , Rating: 1
What an absurd article. Motorola signed a contract to offer these particular patents under FRAND terms, which they then refused to do. The judge ruled that they could only charge a but more than everybody else.

Microsoft's standards-essential patents (and they have many) are all licensed to anybody who wants them under FRAND terms.

If there was any other outcome to this trial it would mean that every other company licensing patents under these terms could also ask for 2% + of the end product - which means anything that has WiFi or h.264 decoding would cost - in patent licensing alone - 2-3 times the retail price (there are hundreds of essential patents required to use 802.11 or h.264).

In fact I think Motorola were spoiled here, as they'll now earn more from these standards than any other licenser (is that a word?).

Thankfully this means everybody should now realise it's not only immoral to try to rip people off with patents you have agreed to license fairly, but also now totally worthless (Moto will have spent more on lawyers than they will earn from these patents).

When you agree to license to for a standard, you give up the ability to make stacks of money ont he patents. This has always been the case, it's just nobody had bothered to test it in court before. Now companies know the FRAND contracts they sign actually mean what they say.

By althaz on 4/28/2013 11:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
Downvotes by idiots, but no responses? Could it be because there is no valid counter-argument?

Decline of daily tech
By Vonrikken on 4/27/2013 5:23:35 AM , Rating: 3
TextDavid Howard, Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel, bragged in a statement, "This decision is good for consumers because it ensures patented technology committed to standards remains affordable for everyone."

How is this bragging? I used to consider daily tech one of the more accurate places you could get the latest news from, but this article as many of late have been very biased in support of the authors views. It's like reading tabloids half the damn time, desperately trying to grab your attention just so they can put their own spin on it.

Change that sign...
By Cannyone on 4/26/2013 5:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
I feel like the sign, next to Steve Balmer, should actually say: " STOP - Pay Troll ". He so looks the part...

Reality check
By mosu on 4/27/2013 2:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
I love the American judicial system that grants some million $ for essential patents and a billion $ for a rectangular shape with rounded corners(when we're talking Korean money).

By p05esto on 4/27/2013 10:15:33 AM , Rating: 2
Well, MS licenses their patents for reasonable fees and I'm OK with that. MS probably has spent more in R&D over the years compared to any other company and they deserve to be paid for their IP. It's very nice that MS licenses their patents vs just saying "no" like Apple (ass company) does). End of story really.

Bad Omen
By ResStellarum on 4/28/2013 8:17:26 AM , Rating: 2
This is a really bad decision for the future of technology. As Jason said, who's going to bother cooperating now on standards patents when it costs more to develop them than the royalties earned.

Microsoft will go around extorting other companies even more now after this. What a farce.

The patent system as it stands rewards big corporations who file as many patent applications as possible no matter how trivial. How exactly is that encouraging innovation?

What did you expect?
By SilentBobDC on 4/26/13, Rating: -1
RE: What did you expect?
By BRB29 on 4/26/2013 1:07:26 PM , Rating: 1
If our legal system is a joke then what do you call the other countries?

RE: What did you expect?
By StevoLincolnite on 4/26/2013 8:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
It's not nearly as bad in other nations.
The United States has a mere 5% of the worlds population, yet has a quarter of the worlds prison population.

They also use extradition treaties with other countries that are supposed to be for terrorism and is instead used on those who download Music/Movies illegally.

To me, the American legal system is incredibly abusive towards the people, allot of the people in it have done only small crimes, which the taxpayer/people end up supporting by providing 3 meals a day, roof over their head and all the comforts of home.

They really should fit the punishment to the crime, instead of locking people up for petty crimes, they should force them to work for the community, fixing up roads, parks etc'.
Also removes the taxpayer burden too...

RE: What did you expect?
By BRB29 on 4/29/2013 9:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
What other nations is that?
I don't know where people come up with this BS. The US is not perfect but this is not the land of mayhem. I'm pretty sure your prisoners statistics are not true. Other countries have major problems like a lack of court, lack of law enforcements, execution before proving guilty without doubt, etc.. etc..

Terrorism and media cases are dealt with through different courts. Terrorism also does not need civil court, but military. I don't even know what you're talking about here except to mislead with made up non-facts.

The American legal system is actually one of the most pro-people system you can have. Where else in the world can you get away with murder if the cop forgets to read you your Miranda rights? Maybe you think the Italians do such a good job with the law.

Ok, our judicial systems are good but not perfect just like any other country. Last I checked, I see prisoners pick up trash on the highway, first time offenders do hundreds to thousands of community service, there's even prisons with real jobs for inmates and they get paid, etc.. etc...

RE: What did you expect?
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/1/2013 7:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure your prisoners statistics are not true.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world (743 per 100,000 population), Russia has the second highest rate (577 per 100,000), followed by Rwanda (561 per 100,000).[8] As of year-end 2009 the USA rate was 743 adults incarcerated in prisons and jails per 100,000 population.[4][8] At year-end 2007 the United States had less than 5% of the world's population[29] and 23.4% of the world's prison and jail population (adult inmates).[9]

Perhaps do some research before you open your mouth?

RE: What did you expect?
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/26/2013 1:08:08 PM , Rating: 5
You may actually want to research a little before you run your mouth.

1. She wasn't driving. She was a passenger.
2. They had stopped so she could put sugar in her coffee.
3. She actually got less then 500,000.

RE: What did you expect?
By Solandri on 4/26/2013 3:22:18 PM , Rating: 5
Arrgh, that site still pops up. It's a terrible site, heavily slanted in the woman's (trial lawyers') favor, not at all objective.

- The coffee brewer was set at a holding temperature within the range recommended by the manufacturer and various coffee brewing organizations.

- In a survey the plaintiff did, the temperature was the same as in other restaurants, except for one. Of course they only presented that one data point, saying "other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures." If their survey were really damning of McDonalds, they would've simply said "no other establishments sold coffee as hot as McDonalds." Read between the lines and you can tell they're completely spinning an unfavorable survey to make it sound like it supports their case.

- McDonalds dropped the temperature immediate after the verdict. Within a few months it was back at the same temperature because too many customers complained about the coffee cooling off too quickly.

- Her lawyers focused on the horrific nature of her injuries, not on who was at fault, in a ploy to gain sympathy. It worked. In interviews after the verdict, the jurors said they thought the accident was the woman's own fault. But McDonalds' attorneys acted like heartless jerks in the courtroom, and someone had to pay the woman's medical bills. So they figured they'd make McDonalds pay it.

- Divided by the number of cups of coffee sold, the coffee accident rate is lower than the vehicle fatality rate for a 5 mile trip. In other words, if you drove 5 miles to McD's every day for a cup of coffee, you have a higher chance of being killed in a car accident than you have of injuring yourself by spilling coffee. If the coffee was unacceptably dangerous, then we need to ban all cars immediately because they are far more dangerous.

RE: What did you expect?
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/26/13, Rating: -1
RE: What did you expect?
By inighthawki on 4/26/2013 4:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what you define as facts. It was basically a short summary of what happened and the outcome.

RE: What did you expect?
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/26/13, Rating: -1
RE: What did you expect?
By inighthawki on 4/26/2013 7:09:09 PM , Rating: 1
Summaries are not facts. Summaries are biased perspectives. Facts would be listing out all of the details, such as the poster above your original comment did.

RE: What did you expect?
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/26/13, Rating: -1
RE: What did you expect?
By inighthawki on 4/26/2013 9:38:02 PM , Rating: 3
You must be a super trusting person to believe that a summary of a public trial is 100% fact and truth with nothing misleading. Please see Solandri's post, he knows what facts look like.

RE: What did you expect?
By Solandri on 4/26/2013 8:52:19 PM , Rating: 5
It omits key facts necessary for the lay person to properly interpret the facts which they do present. i.e. They feed you just enough facts to mislead you to the (wrong) conclusion that they want you to arrive at.

Presented fact: McDonalds set their coffee temp at 180-190 F.

-Interpretation: Is that a reasonable temperature? They follow this up with all sorts of talk about the dangers of high temperatures, leading you to the conclusion that it's too hot.

- Omitted fact: Bunn (manufacturer of most of the commercial coffee brewers sold worldwide) recommends a holding temp of 176-185 F. The National Coffee Association recommends a holding temp of 180-185 F. Below this temp, both claim that many of the aromatics which give coffee its pleasant smell do not evaporate and thus cannot be smelled. Hot beverages are supposed to be served hot, go figure.

Presented fact: McDonalds dropped the temp to 158 after the verdict.

- Interpretation: By itself that sounds like McDonalds admitted the temperature was too hot, and "corrected" it after being chastised by the verdict. And that the country is safer now due to the verdict lowering coffee temperatures at restaurants.

- Omitted fact: McDonalds raised the temperature back to the 180-185 F range after a few months. If you go to any McDonalds today, or any other restaurant for that matter, the coffee holding temp will be 175-185 F because that's what Bunn recommends. The verdict had no long-term or even medium-term impact on coffee temperatures in the country.

Presented Fact: More than 700 people were injured by spilling hot McDonalds coffee between 1982 and 1992.

- Interpretation: By itself that sounds like a lot, and that the coffee is dangerous.

- Omitted fact: During that time period, McDonalds served some 11 billion cups of coffee if I remember right. 700 spills out of 11 billion is 1 spill per 15.7 million cups served. If you drank a cup of McDonalds coffee every day, you would experience one injurous spill every 43,000 years. As I already pointed out, your drive to McDonalds is more dangerous. Just how safe do you want it to be?

Presented fact: "Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures"

- Interpretation: McDonalds served their coffee at a substantially higher temperature than other establishments!

- Omitted fact: Other establishments sold coffee at the same temperature too. By phrasing it the way they did, they lead you straight into a logical fallacy. The fact that some establishments sold coffee at lower temperatures doesn't mean no establishments sold coffee at equal or higher temperatures. But by phrasing it as they did, they lead you into making that logical mistake - leaping from "other coffee was lower temp" to "no coffee was as high or higher temp". If their survey had actually proven what they wanted it to say, they would have simply phrased it "no other establishment served coffee as hot as McDonalds did".

Do you start to see why lawyers have a reputation for being lying weasels, even when they don't actually lie? It's because even when they don't lie, they don't tell you the whole truth. I dealt with this crap all the time helping write contracts at a previous business I worked at. You have to read, and re-read anything a lawyer writes, being careful to not to add any implied interpretation.
(80-85 C = 176-185 F)

RE: What did you expect?
By RedemptionAD on 4/27/2013 9:56:07 AM , Rating: 2
That is exactly what most people misunderstand. Thank you for pointing it out. Presenting facts without the total picture surrounding said facts to build perspective has misled many. There's lies, damned lies, and statistics. -Mark Twain

RE: What did you expect?
By kingmotley on 4/26/2013 5:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
It is slanted in her favor because it only mentions facts that help her case. It was written by a group of lawyers who represent consumers (Note: "© 1995, 1996 by Consumer Attorneys of California "), so it's not surprising.

Additionally, "It's telling of the facts. Nothing more." is false. From the article "No one will ever know the final ending to this case.", is factually incorrect and misleading. There is at the least 3 people who know the final ending to the case, and I suspect a great deal more. Also, "Such secret settlements, after public trials, should not be condoned.", is not a fact, it is an opinion.

Let's so some useless (biased) facts:
"McDonalds asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there. However, the companys[sic] own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving."
could easily be re-written as follows:
"McDonalds asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there, and the company's own research showed that many customers do."
same exact research, just worded for the opposite view. Unbiased answers would indicate how many customers intended to consume the coffee immediately while driving vs how many were intending to consume it at home or the office.

Repeat the above for most of the "facts" in the article.

RE: What did you expect?
By SilentBobDC on 4/26/2013 3:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
Apologies for the dramatic license. However the original judgement was $2.86 million which was later reduced. I suppose I can't see any reason why someone wouldn't put scalding coffee in a paper cup between their thighs anyways. I suppose my view of your legal system is somewhat coloured by the coverage we get up here. Coverage which included judges who slip in the courtroom sue the city for $1 million (as well as suing the janitor) and another one who went after $67 million for a pair of pants lost at his dry cleaners (I know the latter did lose his job and apologize. I have to wonder how people with such poor judgement ended up presiding in any court to start with. But I guess the system is in good hands after all.

RE: What did you expect?
By Samus on 4/26/13, Rating: -1
RE: What did you expect?
By thatguy3444 on 4/26/2013 1:37:54 PM , Rating: 1
SilentBob - As cheese said... You probably don't want to run your mouth off without doing any research into what you are talking about - you just sound ignorant.

- The woman was 79, and was trying to pull the lid off the cup with the car parked in a parking lot.

- She suffered third degree burns over 6 percent of her body, and died not long after.

- McDonalds had maintained a policy of keeping their coffee at close to boiling, even though it had led to a huge number of injuries.

- The amount awarded was the equivalent of something like 2 days of coffee sales. (It was punitive, so the point was to be enough to make McD change its policy...) It was also later reduced.

RE: What did you expect?
By jmarchel on 4/26/2013 9:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
The coffee is sold as "hot". Isn't it ? If you don;t like it hot, buy Coca Cola for gods sake.

RE: What did you expect?
By ven1ger on 4/29/2013 8:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
She suffered third degree burns over 6 percent of her body, and died not long after.

She was still living at least 2 years after the injury. Not sure where you get she died not long after, possibly trying to make it sound more ominous than it actually was? If she's now deceased, I'd probably figure that she died from other than the burns.

McDonalds had maintained a policy of keeping their coffee at close to boiling, even though it had led to a huge number of injuries.

Noticed that you used huge number of injuries, but failed to specify the number, there were more than 700 reported injuries from 1982 - 1992, a 10 year period in which millions if not billions of coffee served. So that huge number you're relying on isn't so huge anymore.

You probably don't want to run your mouth off without doing any research into what you are talking about - you just sound ignorant.


RE: What did you expect?
By sigmatau on 4/26/2013 8:46:37 PM , Rating: 2
McDonalds made one fatal mistake: they put their trust in a jury. They should have asked for a trial by judge. No judge in his right mind would have given that woman a dime. It was all her fault she spilled super hot coffee on her crotch. Coffee is always super hot.

RE: What did you expect?
By Kazinji on 4/27/2013 10:36:45 PM , Rating: 1
What more would you expect from the legal system that gave a moron millions of dollars for driving with a hot cup of coffee stuck between her thighs?

Should know what happened before you comment on it.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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