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Print 42 comment(s) - last by retrospooty.. on Oct 21 at 8:51 AM

Samsung agrees not to use SEPs to seek bans in the EU for five years

Even as Apple, Inc. (AAPL) moves to ban its products in several EU jurisdictions, Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) own efforts to fight back hit a roadblock due to European Union (EU) scrutiny over its use (or abuse)?  Of so-called standards-essential patents (SEPs), which must be licensed under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

As a veteran of the phone industry Samsung focused much of its intellectual property on standards, at a time when most OEMs in the industry embraced collaboration.  Today is filled with disruptive new entrants such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Apple, two companies with roots in the PC space who made the leap to phones in recent years.  

While Microsoft agreed to a lucrative licensing deal, Apple has been particularly belligerent, looking to ban Samsung's products which it says infringe on its portfolio of much more ambiguous patents such as claims to a "rectangular" smartphone design or to animations in a user interface.

Samsung v. Apple
Apple refused to license its ambiguous patents to Samsung insisting Samsung should be banned from the market. [Image Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Samsung was stuck between a rock and a hard place, so it did something possibly illegal -- it used its SEPs to try to counterattack Apple.  And now it's paid the price, following an EU probe.  In a new proposed settlement Samsung has agreed to refrain from using SEPs in lawsuits for the next five years.

Apple D'889 patent
Apple's patent arsenal includes a patent claiming ownership of all rectangular tablets [pictured].

Joaquin Almunia, chief antitrust regulator for the European Commission (EC), the agency that regulates competition in the European Union (EU) praised the move, remarking:

Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate. However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars.

The concession could help Samsung avoid a fine.  And Samsung has, for now, managed to beat of Apple's ban attempts in some key jurisdictions.  In Britain Apple was forced to print an apology for falsely accusing Samsung of infringement, and then was admonished after it try to undermine this court order.  Apple was also forced to pay Samsung's court fees.  And in Germany and the Netherlands, two jurisdictions where Apple scored early wins, Samsung made minor modifications to keep its devices on the market.
 

Apple was forced to apologize for falsely accusing Samsung in the UK. [Image Source:: The Next Web]
 
In the U.S. the Obama administration recently handed Apple a controversial win when it allowed a ban by Apple of certain older Samsung smartphones and tablets, but vetoed a similar ban on Apple products, due to the fact that the patents involved were SEPs.

In the long term Samsung is left rather defenseless if Apple tries to sue its new devices for being rectangles or other supposed infringements.  If Samsung were wise, when it comes to patents it would abandon its spirit of cooperation which seems to be dead in the smartphone industry and embrace patenting vague and ambiguous interface ideas.  That way next time Samsung gets sued it will have perfectly legal firepower to fire back with.

Source: Europa [EU press releases]



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Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By w8gaming on 10/18/2013 2:55:46 AM , Rating: 3
Due to the outcome of all these, it is now clear that a company is stupid to try to invent or improve on key technology that allow new devices or services to be made. I know many Apple fans think this is great as this is a win for their beloved company, but they are all ignoring the fact that what this will lead to in the future. It is simply morally wrong to punish the companies who create the basic foundations for new technology while reward companies who get a free ride on such foundations, and then turn around and prevent the pioneers from entering the market that they have made possible in the first place.

That being said, Samsung currently is only slightly affected by such outcome, because the blocked products are many years old and have little market presence anyway. But if government goes further and allow blocking the latest products in the market, then the punishment will be real and it will show the whole world that it is truly stupid to spend lots of money in order to invent technology that establish standards, instead of just spend money to employs lots of lawyers to write ambigiuous patent applications.




RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 10:42:51 AM , Rating: 2
So all that justifies Apple's refusal to pay FRAND and set a new precedent? Virtually affecting any industries desire to invest in FRAND.


By Cheesew1z69 on 10/18/2013 10:57:34 AM , Rating: 2
In Tonys world, yes, it does...


By retrospooty on 10/18/2013 11:01:26 AM , Rating: 3
Tony's world just got smashed... Google's stock just broke $1000 today. LOL

https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3AGOOG&ei=...


By Cheesew1z69 on 10/18/2013 11:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
I saw that, watching it now :)


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 11:18:54 AM , Rating: 4
I love it. Now any reply to Tony you don't have to stay on topic you just respond Google stock broke $1000. Miracles do happen.


By retrospooty on 10/18/2013 12:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
I don't feel bad about that at all. Tony's changes topic regularly any time the topic isn't in Apples favor. So its all fair game when a corporate tool is involved. He is only here to spread disinformation and speak 1/2 truths to make Apple look good, for whatever reason.


By Cheesew1z69 on 10/18/2013 1:12:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
for whatever reason
Getting paid, it really can't be anything else, anyone that devotes as much of their time as he does to defending them, without being paid, is one pathetic human being.


By retrospooty on 10/18/2013 1:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
"Getting paid, it really can't be anything else, anyone that devotes as much of their time as he does to defending them, without being paid, is one pathetic human being"

I dunno. The pathetic level of some people mighjt surprise you ;)

Regardless, if he is a paid shill, or a devoted nut, it makes no difference. Both are equally useless.


By Cheesew1z69 on 10/18/2013 1:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The pathetic level of some people mighjt surprise you ;)
Not after working where I do for 7 years, doesn't surprise me one bit anymore. LOL


By Tony Swash on 10/18/2013 12:29:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
So all that justifies Apple's refusal to pay FRAND and set a new precedent?


Apple didn't refuse to pay a license based on FRAND.

Apple never wanted anything other than the standard FRAND deal.

It is the illegal use of FRAND protected patents by Samsung to seek competitive advantage in the market by charging discriminatory license fees to selected competitors (in this case Apple) that is the salient issue of this case.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/18/2013 8:52:59 AM , Rating: 3
Apple is essentially rendering Samsung patents worthless though, by refusing to pay licensing. They've been infringing for years, piggybacking the technologies of others while making billions.

They aren't being anti competitive. That's Apples area of expertise.

They didn't "happily agree" to let Apple use their standards patents for free. Show me where it says they have to do that?

If Apple can justify product bans over the rectangle, then Samsung certainly can over actual technologies.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/18/2013 10:32:44 AM , Rating: 2
Apple shills like you love making the argument that because Samsungs terms were not to their liking, that gave Apple carte' blanche to use said patents for years before an agreement was reached. Wrong.

So let's sat Samsung has been unfair to Apple, okay. So what?


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:47:23 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
So let's sat Samsung has been unfair to Apple, okay. So what?


If it is proven to be the case that Samsung was not making a fair or reasonable offer, they would be in breach of their FRAND obligations and Apple would have a legitimate right to not have paid any licenses yet.

Apple would still owe fair and reasonable license fees, but obviously they can't agree to a proposal which they view as extortionate. If no agreement can be reached eventually the courts will need to determine what the fair rate is, and Apple will have to pay it. Depending on who the court determines was responsible for the late payment, Apple may or may not also have to pay damages for late payment.


By rsmech on 10/18/2013 11:14:11 AM , Rating: 2
Your arguments imply we have an unbiased, far and reasonable legal system. Many companies in this environment believed and developed FRAND patents. Before Apple and Jobs the industry improved and innovated, the industry as a whole collaborated on the direction it headed. Of course there were differences that worked themselves out but the overall course was forward. When Blue Ray won out over HD-DVD Sony didn't shut everyone out of the market, Sony wasn't the only company allowed to make small rectangular devices to play disc media. A format won and all others accepted and followed the new course the INDUSTRY was headed. Apple allows for none of this, Apple wants no others in there industry. If Apple were Sony you could only buy Sony Blue Ray players while everyone else made standard DVDs. You could pick apart my analogy but then your missing the point. I have been to this site for many years and have read many patent articles but until Apple they were not so ridiculous, redundant, anticompetitive.


By Shadowself on 10/18/2013 10:27:41 AM , Rating: 1
First, Apple did NOT refuse to license Samsung's FRAND patents. Several cases both in the US and Europe, the German case being the most famous, show this explicitly. What Apple refused to do was to pay a LOT more than anyone else pays. Samsung has been demanding that Apple not only pay 12 times what Samsung is charging anyone else, but Samsung is also demanding that Apple cross license Apple's non FRAND patents as part of the deal too.

Apple has been paying the FRAND patent holders for many, many years. Do some research before stating they haven't.

No one with more than one functioning brain cell is saying Samsung agreed to license it's FRAND patents for free. What people are saying is that Samsung can't use FRAND patents to extort discriminatory fees. That goes directly against the FRAND agreement that Samsung voluntarily signed.

And please stop with the grossly inaccurate old saw about Apple seeking bans over rectangles. It never happened no matter how often people say it. The physical description of the device is one tiny piece of the overall design patent people like to point to. In every case where the claims have been narrowed by the judge the supporting claim is excluded.

Yes, Samsung can sue over actual technologies, and they should. IF Apple had flat out refused to pay any licensing frees or only wanted to pay half of what anyone else was paying then Samsung would have a case. Samsung should have gone to Apple and said, "We charge everyone $1.00 a phone for these patents. Pay that standard fee or else." Samsung did not do that and it is coming back to bite them.


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 11:21:45 AM , Rating: 2
The ITC ruled against Apple for what? The administration overturned it.


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:27:51 AM , Rating: 1
The ITC was only ruling on whether an injunction could be granted or not. Their decision was overridden because it would constitute an abuse of FRAND.

The ITC cannot award financial damages, Samsung will have to go to another legal body for that, but Obama made clear that they are absolutely entitled to do so.


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 11:27:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And please stop with the grossly inaccurate old saw about Apple seeking bans over rectangles


Of course they did. Like you said the judge weeded it out but Apple regardless still sought a case including that very thing.

But I still will give you credit for more than one brain cell.


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:35:11 AM , Rating: 1
You're absolutely right, Apple tried all sorts of bizarre, underhand tactics and admittedly some of those did include the use of vague patents - I guess the legal approach is try whatever you can and see what sticks.

However, the legal system did its job and the only patents which were successful were the legitimate ones. It's therefore a little misleading to try and group all of Apple's patents (some of which are quite technical) with the vague, unsuccessful ones.

If you look at what any company has 'tried' to do - there are far worse attempts on Samsung's side. For example, in one case they were licensing a FRAND patent to Qualcomm, who then sold the part on to Apple. Samsung attempted (illegally) to withdraw the license only with respect to Apple, in order to charge Apple again for the same license. This was deemed illegal in all the countries they attempted it in, and they failed every time.

The only difference is that abusing FRAND patents is illegal. Having a vague patent isn't.


By Shadowself on 10/18/2013 1:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, standard legal practice in all these cases, on all sides (not just Apple) is to throw the everything, including the kitchen sink, into the suit and the negotiate the real claims. It should not be so, but it is. For anyone to say that Apple was really suing anyone over rectangles is just idiotic.

And the judge did not weed out the claims. They are negotiated out between the parties 99.999% of the time. The judge rarely steps in and unilaterally throws out claims and none ever did so with regard to specifically throwing out rectangles.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/18/2013 12:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Text What Apple refused to do was to pay a LOT more than anyone else pays.


They can do that. What they cannot do is use the patents indefinately in lieu of an agreement.


By Shadowself on 10/18/2013 1:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
No, Samsung needs to go to Apple and say, "The highest fee anyone else pays is $ XX.XX per phone. Pay that, and we're good."

If Apple refuses to pay that then Samsung should be allowed to stop the import of iPhones into any and every country. Barring Samsung offering to license the patents under FRAND conditions and terms, Samsung is stuck.

Apple needs to pay the FRAND license fees dating back as far as Apple was using the technology. Apple must not get a free ride on any iPhones or iPads sold. However, if it takes Samsung 10 years to come to the table with a FRAND based fee structure then Apple just needs to set aside money internally for the next ten years for the day 10 years from now when they do have to pay.


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:25:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple is essentially rendering Samsung patents worthless though, by refusing to pay licensing. They've been infringing for years, piggybacking the technologies of others while making billions.

They aren't being anti competitive. That's Apples area of expertise.


Apple is not rendering anything worthless. The law as it always stood is being followed, and that law is that you cannot seek bans of products if you have a disagreement about or non-payment of FRAND rates. You can seek financial damages, and the licenses fees you are still due , but you can't seek product bans. Companies never entered the FRAND world with the intention of either a) Protecting their technology (precisely the opposite) or b) Banning products (it has always been prohibited). The FRAND game was always a financial one - and Samsung still has every right to sue Apple for payment of their FRAND rates.

You have to bear in mind that there is also an argument here over what is fair and reasonable, as well. Samsung wanted to charge Apple a rate in proportion with the selling cost of Apple's devices (which Apple described as a tax on Apples own engineering and design) and it also wanted Apple to license Samsung its many non-FRAND patents in return (which it is Apple's strategy not to license). Apple is within its rights to challenge the rates being demanded by Samsung, to a certain extent.

What should (and will) happen is that the two will never agree on the FRAND rate and eventually some legal body will make a decision and order Apple to pay, along with any necessary damages. FRAND patents still have their financial value, Samsung will gain what it is due and Apple will ensure it hasn't been ripped off or forced to license patents it never wished to.


By Tony Swash on 10/18/2013 12:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple is essentially rendering Samsung patents worthless though, by refusing to pay licensing. They've been infringing for years, piggybacking the technologies of others while making billions.

They aren't being anti competitive. That's Apples area of expertise.

They didn't "happily agree" to let Apple use their standards patents for free. Show me where it says they have to do that?

If Apple can justify product bans over the rectangle, then Samsung certainly can over actual technologies.


Not a single truthful or factual statement in your comment just a lot of huff and puff. Luckily the courts and those tasked with making rational decisions keep on spanking Samsung.

Meanwhile in Seoul in the office of the Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who resigned in April 2008 owing to the Samsung slush funds scandal but who returned to post in March 2010, an underling presents a report on the support for Samsung shown by some Americans.

Is this true? Asks Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

"Yes sir"

Some Americans spend their time defending us and attacking the US company Apple?

"Yes sir"

Are we paying them?

"No sir, they volunteer to do this."

Why on earth are they doing that?

"They seem to think Apple is bad and Samsung is good"

Are they mentally ill?

"Most don't seem to be, they just volunteer to spend a lot of time defending Samsung and attacking Apple?"

What has caused such strange behaviour?

"We have no idea sir, we think it may be a side effect of eating too much fast food"

Do everything you can to encourage these idiots, perhaps send them another batch of faked benchmarks from our phones, that should keep them happy.


By retrospooty on 10/18/2013 12:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
Wow... Just wow...

What on Earth is going on in your head? It's all "us vs. them" paranoia for the sake of a company. LOL


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 10:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
What does a company do when they win a case (Samsung) because another company (Apple) refuses to pay FRAND licensing fees? The US has just made FRAND patents free when they over ruled Samsung's court case and ITC ruling. Which makes the previous posters comment about FRAND patents correct. The US says you are no longer entitled to a small fee for FRAND therefore they are financially irrelevant to develop any longer. If a company can refuse to pay, you win in court and they still refuse to pay, you should be able to ban because of their refusal.


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:18:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The US has just made FRAND patents free when they over ruled Samsung's court case and ITC ruling


This is incorrect. The ruling from Obama specifically stated that Samsung is absolutely entitled to seek financial damages for the patents, as I stated in my original comment.

What is being prohibited is seeking bans, or specifically any anti-competitive behaviour.

quote:
If a company can refuse to pay, you win in court and they still refuse to pay, you should be able to ban because of their refusal.


Why should you be entitled to ban rather than be entitled to force them to pay? Bans are anti-competitive, and it's particularly complicated in a situation where two companies disagree over what a 'fair' rate is.


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 11:33:47 AM , Rating: 2
So when the ITC sided with Samsung did they disapprove with the fees? Was the ban because Apple refused to pay these "higher" fees?


By Wazza1234 on 10/18/2013 11:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
The ITC did not make a monetary determination on what fair, reasonable fees should be. Nor do they have the authority to issue any financial damages.

What they did determine, is that Samsung had acted reasonably , in that they had made genuine attempts to negotiate with Apple in good faith. They similarly determined that Apple had not acted reasonably.

Clearly, they felt that Samsung had been more in line with their obligations, but it's important to note that they didn't assess the figures or values themselves. Just the actions of both companies.

The ban was because Apple had not shown a good faith willingness to negotiate, in the eyes of the ITC. Whether or not Apple was correct that the proposed fees were too high or not will be for another court to determine.


RE: Important creative ideas being rendered pointless
By rsmech on 10/18/2013 12:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
So the bigger question really is if non FRAND patents are worth so much lately this should drive the markets up for FRAND and if they are transferable. It seems if FRAND in essence become virtually worthless collaboration decreases. To keep industry standards continuing Samsung or any other company need better returns on R&D. As I said earlier Apple is not the only but a major player in this situation. They shouldn't complain about market forces they helped set in motion. FRAND prices need to rise.

As for charging higher prices to Apple it sounds like they were in negotiations and not settled. Well tough, the ones who negotiated earlier got better pricing before Apple changed the market price and Samsung may be negotiating at this new price point.


By A11 on 10/19/2013 8:23:32 AM , Rating: 2
No that's not the question at all.

What you are asking would basicly defeat the purpose of FRAND patents if it happened as the whole point of it is to promote the creation of standards by ensuring everyone is allowed to license it on equal terms and making sure there will be no abuse of the patent down the road after it's been adopted as a standard.

The real question is if Samsung has breached the FRAND rules by demanding an unreasonable price and/or attached strings for Apple to license the patents and so far the legal bodies involved have burned Samsung pretty hard for bringing FRAND into play.


The parent system is broken
By superstition on 10/18/2013 1:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

-- Ambrose Bierce




Indecent
By Wazza1234 on 10/18/13, Rating: 0
RE: Indecent
By evo slevven on 10/18/2013 8:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
Your post Wazza is really a short and watered down version on the events as a whole. Keeping in mind that design aesthetics were brought introduced in the original case and that patents that were invalidated were not re-considered to date regarding damages as Judge Koh has noted.

The only part that I do find troubling are issues of "exclusivity" where some of the parts that were introduced as "an exclusive feature" or "innovation of Apple" were described rather vaguely in the patent itself. I'll save the irony on the patent office assigning patents that are overtly broad and vague.

Apple is free to do whatever it pleases but I'm under the assumption that continually relying on litigation and higher priced phones versus actually market presence isn't the best way to stay profitable long term. Didn't RIM's Blackberry have this phase nearly a decade ago?


Apple and Samsung
By retrospooty on 10/18/2013 8:17:46 AM , Rating: 2
Enough already, way beyond enough already... You both act like spoiled children and both need to sit down and shut up and just make products.

http://i.imgur.com/Kg8NV.gif




Poor Samsung - the innocent victim
By Tony Swash on 10/18/13, Rating: -1
RE: Poor Samsung - the innocent victim
By Decom on 10/20/2013 10:55:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Such action would obviously be good for building trust in industry wide standards and could only help move the tech sector forward, as would unfettered and unauthorised stealing of IP and the collapse of all patent and IP protection. Such an end to any sort of IP protection would be bound to ensure that all companies invested in extensive and original R&D knowing that their competitors could instantly copy any feature or innovation.


The industry had trust before the vultures Apple and MS swooped in, buoyed by the idiotic USPTO to ruin what had been a relatively easy place for the existing phone manufacturers to set SEP's and move the tech forward.

Apples belligerence with the help of product and IP cloning patents from the USPTO has made all parties now involved pull out their switchblades at the meeting table.

You talk of unauthorized stealing of IP and the collapse of all patent and IP protection as if your beloved Apple have not stolen a single thing in their life, your simple company devotion has gone from bias through warped logic and has now led to what seems like real hatred for any competitors particularly Samsung. The way you take it upon yourself to point out Samsung's past discrepancies, some of which they have been cleared of, or have no bearing on the issues of today smacks of real craziness.

Why don't you list Apple's business wrongdoings every time you go on a rant?
It's a given that any large multinational will have had their hand slapped from time to time, it's just business!

quote:
Clearly it's a pure coincidence that the early Galaxy, Blade, Blackjack and INNOV8 phones looked almost exactly like the iPhone, Motorola RAZR, Blackberry and Nokia N96's, and it's not as if Samsung's previous history is littered with unethical and illegal activities.

You arguments used to be salient, coherent and sometimes justified, but I think you need to take a step back and really examine what Apple has truly done in relation to trust in the industry and what large part they have played in bringing this trust to a grinding halt.
We've gone from an industry where everyone was willing to get along, set standards, move forward and compete, to now having a vague patent granted and going about trying to product ban your competition out of existence.
It's a strategy that has worked up until a point, but it now seems like we are following the PC years where Apple will be happy to sit at a low percentage of the market with decent profits, while the lion's share of people will use Android followed by WP8.

I believe consumers are sick to their back teeth of patent/IP litigation on both sides. We just want all companies to be given a fair crack at producing their best goods for us to consume, and for them to be able to do this without fear of being slapped with a law suit for trivialities coming from any party.


By retrospooty on 10/21/2013 8:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
"You arguments used to be salient, coherent and sometimes justified, but I think you need to take a step back and really examine what Apple has truly done in relation to trust in the industry and what large part they have played in bringing this trust to a grinding halt."

Exactly. As Apple slips into "Big company bully boy" mentality, Tony slips into nonsensical fanboy, unable to put up a decent argument fanboy mentality.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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