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Samsung Offers Patent Cease-Fire in EU 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the rally-to-restore-innovation dept.
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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Samsung Offers Patent Cease-Fire in EU

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • 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 lon

  • 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.
    • by Theovon (109752)

      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.

      • 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.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      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 g

  • 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.

    • by akozakie (633875)

      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. D

      • by faffod (905810)
        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, pa
  • Yeah, But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Saturday October 19, 2013 @12:25PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • In theory.

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

  • by ravenlord_hun (2715033) on Saturday October 19, 2013 @01:02PM (#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.
    • by rsborg (111459)

      ...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.

    • 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.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        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 pro

  • 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.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      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 S

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Saturday October 19, 2013 @09:10PM (#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.

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