Patent Dispute Means SanDisk Can Only Show Photos Of New MP3 Players

from the patents-and-innovation dept

In the US, the courts are finally recognizing that an automatic injunction in patent disputes doesn't always make sense. The same is not necessarily true elsewhere. In Germany, a patent licensing/management firm named Sisvel, who has accused SanDisk of patent infringement in many different countries concerning MP3 patents, has convinced a judge that SanDisk should be barred from even showing its new MP3 players at a trade show. Instead, they can only show photographs of the devices. This doesn't make very much sense. If SanDisk is infringing, then they should be fined and/or barred from selling the devices -- but as a recent article shows, no court case has even started yet. So why should the devices be barred? What good does it do to simply bar them from showing the actual devices at a trade show? If anything, it acts as a bigger attention getter for SanDisk, as people wonder why the devices are not being shown.

Another interesting point is that Sisvel seems to defend themselves by pointing to everyone else who licensed their patents in the past: "It means that the 600 companies, the biggest ones, who have taken a license, they are stupid, because all of the other have paid." This goes back to the question some asked last week about why it matters to other firms trying to challenge a patent if some companies (especially big name ones) have licensed the patent. While it doesn't actually impact any legal standing, it does put additional pressure on them to settle. Patent holders use the fact that others licensed the patent in the court of public opinion to put pressure on the other companies. That's true even if the calculus from those who licensed the patent is that it's cheaper to just pay up than fight -- even if they don't believe the patents are valid or (if the patents are valid) that they infringe. Having other companies license the patents makes people believe that they must be valid, even if they are not.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    JJ, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 2:33am

    ugh

    Nice to see the US hasn't cornered the market on ridiculous patent situations.

     

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    Franssu, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 4:34am

    Sigh

    Let's just trash the current patent system. It is totally FUBAR and serves only the IP companies wealthy, greedy and stupid enough to file patents for obvious systems. This is a disgrace to the laws of evolution.

     

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    Northwest, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    North

    It didn't help George Selden case that some companies acquiesced to his royalty demands. Selden patented the automobile and had started collecting money from a number of car manufacturers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_B._Selden

     

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    MathMan, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 6:55am

    Calculus?

    Calculus? o.O

     

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    Justin, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:37am

    hmm

    I do not see the point of just letting Sandisk show photographs rather than the actual product. If there is some patent issues would they not just stop making the product. If not, they should be able to show it. I think we should re-write our patent laws for they make no sense. Perhaps i should patent the use of patents or the patent itself. But then again the government might say i can only show the photograph of the patent papers rather than the papers themselves.

     

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    Susheel Daswani, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:46am

    Re: Licensing Leverage

    Patent holders use the fact that others licensed the patent in the court of public opinion to put pressure on the other companies.

    In my opinion, the most relevant factor about whether to pursue a declaratory judgment that a patent is invalid is not how many other people have licensed that patent, but how expensive it is to litigate the case. As Mike admits, the fact that everyone in the world but you has licensed the patent has little or no legal weight. If the cost to litigate a infringement / declaratory judgment suit was $1, no company would care how many other companies have licensed a patent. In the end, it is a cost/benefit analysis that compares how valuable the patent is to a certain company (benefit) vs. how expensive it is to have the patent invalidated (cost).

     

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    WebmanGA, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    We do need an overhaul to our patent system I believe.

     

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    DaveP, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 8:06am

    I have to keep my Sansa in my pocket when I listen to it, otherwise I might be declared an accomplice...

     

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    identicon
    Lay Person, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 11:13am

    Scamers

    I don't think the patent system is at fault as much as these companies trying to use the system to their advantage.

    The patent system has been in place since the beginning and have had no problems until companies and mainly their intellectual property attorneys started to game the existing system to take financial advantage in any way shape or form.

    These attorneys can be quite clever in their understanding of the patent system. They are very apt at holding the system hostage until someone pays.

    This, if anything, needs to be stopped.

     

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      Mike (profile), Sep 5th, 2006 @ 1:16pm

      Re: Scamers

      I don't think the patent system is at fault as much as these companies trying to use the system to their advantage.

      Ah, but the way the system is set up, it encourages them to take advantage of the system. In most cases, they're not doing anything illegal. They're just using the system as it has been set up.

      The patent system has been in place since the beginning and have had no problems until companies and mainly their intellectual property attorneys started to game the existing system to take financial advantage in any way shape or form.

      That's not quite true either. First, the patent system has been gamed in the past. Second, is that there have been some major changes to the patent system in the last few decades that has contributed to the problem.

       

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    MathMan, Sep 5th, 2006 @ 11:51am

    hmm...

    am i the only person who thinks 'calculus' shouldn't be used in place of 'calculation'?

     

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