Print 69 comment(s) - last by Black1969ta.. on Oct 25 at 3:07 AM

Apple agrees to license some low level patents

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has asserted that if it wins over Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930) in its slew of international lawsuits [1][2][3][4] [5][6][7] it will not license certain patents.

The approach is somewhat unusual in a market where companies like Microsoft, Corp. (MSFT) usually use their patent library to pressure rivals into lucrative licensing agreements [1][2].  Rather, Apple looks to “one up” competitors’ products with its IP library in order to make its own product more attractive.

In the past, Apple has patented certain technologies that are rather relatively obvious (e.g. its GUI patents including U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381) or cover ubiquitous industry standards (e.g. multi-touch) that were well-researched academically but were patented by Apple once the technology became mass-producible. 

Some have accused Apple of fighting dirty in suing with obvious patents and, thus far, refusing to license industry-standards (e.g. the rectangular tablet design and multi-touch).  Similar allegations have been leveled against Samsung, who in its countersuits has used certain industry-standard wireless patents covered under "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" (F/RAND) terms.  While Samsung also uses non-standards patents in its suits, its plan to see a ban on Apple's products using the F/RAND IP is controversial -- much like Apple's identical initial strike.

In the court filing Apple did leave the door open to licensing some patents, rather than refusing to license them and seeking a ban.  Apple's lawyers write:

However, he emphasises that such discussion was part of the broader discussion of a framework by which Samsung Electronics Co Limited could continue to sell its products with some elements of Apple Inc’s intellectual property, such as some 'lower level patents', available to them but would cease copying the features and functionality of Apple Inc's products, and the iPad in particular.

What is unclear is what patents exactly are among those "lower level" ones that Apple would be willing to license.

Samsung isn't taking any chances.  The New York Times reports that Samsung has filed suit seeking a sales ban on the iPhone 4S via preliminary injunction in Japan's Tokyo District Court and in Australia's New South Wales Registry.  The ban would apply to all of Japan and all of Australia if Samsung sees success in its respective claims.
Samsung wants Apple's iPhone 4S banned in Australia and Japan [Source: Apple]

James Chung, a Samsung spokesperson, states, "We are actively responding in (the legal battle) with Apple."

On Sunday Samsung Chief Operating Officer and President Lee Jae-yong journeyed to the U.S. to attend the memorial service of late Apple co-founder Steven P. Jobs.  He said that he would be meeting with Apple's new CEO Tim Cook, but it was unclear whether peace talks would be on the agenda.

Mr. Lee comments, "I will have a chance to meet Cook, but I'm not going there for business purposes. I'm going to pay tribute to Steve Jobs, and I don't know what I will talk about with Cook."

Samsung and Apple now have over two dozen lawsuits in over 10 countries worldwide regarding supposed infringements of mobile device intellectual property.

Sources: Samsung Fires Back at Apple iPhone 4S, Federal Court of Australia

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RE: Just more of Apple
By michael2k on 10/17/2011 4:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
They get away with it because it's legal. They are utilizing government granted monopolies in IP to stop competitors in a court of law.

If Microsoft did the same thing it would also be legal until someone changed the law on them or calls the antitrust card on them. In Microsoft's case they said antitrust law was greater than contract law.

In Apple's case you have the distinction that they aren't a monopoly (you do in fact have alternatives such as Motorola, Blackberry, Nokia, LG, Sony, etc that actually make up 60% of the marketplace) and the fact that IP is enshrined in the highest laws (patents and copyright are in the US Constitution, for example, while trademark is just a little lower ranked as an entire field of law) while contracts are legal language but not actually laws.

RE: Just more of Apple
By lightfoot on 10/17/2011 7:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
Apple IS a monopoly in the digital music industry. iTunes is THE dominant player (and yes it is a legal monopoly.)

What is illegal is that they use this legal monopoly and tie it to the other products that they sell (like MP3 players, phones and tablets.) Leveraging their legal monopoly to create a dominant position in other markets is clearly a violation of anti-trust laws.

Microsoft got nailed by the same laws by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

Imagine if Apple was forced to give you the OPTION of choosing a different App store when activating an iDevice? Mind-boggling isn't it? The option of not having to shovel 30% of everything you buy for your phone/tablet/music player to Apple. The world might end!

RE: Just more of Apple
By michael2k on 10/18/2011 12:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
You haven't actually given indication how Apple has "abused" it's monopoly. Here's an example:
Microsoft had a contract with Compaq to prevent Compaq from modifying the Windows boot image. Compaq replaced IE with Netscape and MSN with AOL, on the desktop, ergo modifying the Windows boot image. Microsoft refused to license Windows to Compaq on those terms. The DoJ found it abuse of monopoly in enforcing said contract to gain power over Netscape, using it's Windows monopoly to gain a monopoly over browsers.

Apple iTunes is tied to MP3 players and tablets and phones, but they don't use iTunes to crush other MP3 players, tablets, or phones. They don't prevent you from using iTunes or iPods or iPod touches if you run an Android phone; I've got two coworkers that use, respectively, and iPod touch (for games and tethered browsing) and an iPod (for music) while also using an Android phone.

Likewise with tablets! My sister in law's TouchPad works fine despite iTunes being installed on her PC.

Tying to services together is in fact legal if it isn't anticompetitive; look at how XBox 360 games don't work on PCs nor Macs despite being DirectX compatible and PowerPC compatible. Look at how Wii games don't run on an XBox 360 despite both being PowerPC units.

RE: Just more of Apple
By Black1969ta on 10/18/2011 2:08:53 AM , Rating: 2
Constitution? Where exactly in the constitution is the law establishing Patents and copyrights? I would like the article and paragraph please.

RE: Just more of Apple
By michael2k on 10/18/2011 11:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
From Wiki:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress:

“ To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. ”

RE: Just more of Apple
By Black1969ta on 10/25/2011 3:07:33 AM , Rating: 2
LIB! I knew it was law but didn't realize, the law dated back to the constitution itself.

I stand corrected!

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