UN Wants To Host 'Patent' Summit To Deal With Smartphone Patent Thicket

from the send-in-peacekeepers? dept

The UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) — the same unit looking at very questionable plans concerning taxing the internet — has apparently decided that it also needs to step in over the massive patent thicket around smartphones. It’s convening a summit of many of the players involved in the various patent disputes to see if something can be worked out to settle down all of the patent lawsuits. Of course, from the sound of it, it looks like they’re only inviting the big companies who make products, and leaving the many trolls out of it. Also, it’s unclear from the description if the ITU really grasps the root causes of the problem: the system itself. Instead, it seems to think that bringing together all of these companies will magically get them to “settle their differences.” That seems like wishful thinking.

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Comments on “UN Wants To Host 'Patent' Summit To Deal With Smartphone Patent Thicket”

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23 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, it was a bad move. All the trolls should have been invited. It is often very difficult to work out who are the individuals behind a troll. They are shell companies. The empty office in Marshall, TX is not offering many clues. If they are invited and they do not come, then it proves they are not interested in being part of the solution (not a surprise). If the do come then everybody can see who they are. Are they patent lawyers or are they hard-working inventors living off their licensing revenue?

Anonymous Coward says:

Governments are seeing a fraking big threat looming in the horizon.

Enforcement of IP is becoming extremely hazardous and technology is rapidly progressing meaning those control points are about to colapse.

About control, chemichists have found ways to fight against the war on drugs too.

Wired: New Federal Ban on Synthetic Drugs Already Obsolete

This should raise eyebrows everywhere, recreational drugs design is not a problem I would concern myself with, the real problem is when those laws start affecting DIY production which for me is the only way that people will ever get affordable healthcare anywhere.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Like many other UN agencies it’s convinced that if you put people in a room, pass around some chateau noir and half an hour later you can come up with some kind of binding agreement.

That they don’t get it that the root cause is a system that allows software patents which has caused companies to build patent thickets to defend themselves from patent trolls and each other.

They even site JPEGs as a concern though the licensing costs of JPGs are minimal at best. That and the JPEG patent covers encoding and compression that occurs not just on smartphones but on cameras of all kinds to reduce storage space on the camera itself. Not a single camera I’m aware of stores photos in any other format out of the box though many can also store pictures as TIFF or PNG.

FRAND has long been a point of contention with patent holders and has become much more of one since the court imposed opening the flood gate for software patents. A development the tech industry, by and large, didn’t want and were opposed to. For just this reason.

From the BBC report:

“We are seeing an unwelcome trend in today’s marketplace to use standards-essential patents to block markets,” said the ITU secretary general Dr Hamadoun Torre.

“There needs to be an urgent review of this situation: patents are meant to encourage innovation, not stifle it.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of patents, Dr. Torre. Sorry to awake you from your pleasant dream. Time for the real world now.
Patent thickets make everyone a potential patent troll now. Right, Apple?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, I don’t know what those IP people thought it would happen.

If you give “exclusionary” powers to others they will exclude others, that some people think this is not a problem in a world where you depend on thousands of different things to make anything today is willful blindness.

Exclusionary tools worked when there were few people around to make use of those, now that everybody is making use of it, it becomes a freaking nightmare and it was the only end it would reach.

It is getting so bad that even governments can’t deny anymore that it is a problem since Samsung got injunctions against an American company(Apple) now the financial baker of the UN noticed that this is a freaking problem and that the US won’t be able to compete against 200 countries(7 billion people) patenting everything under the sun.

There will be no FRAND or RAND in the future, because to make those available is to make it easier for competitors to sue you and you can’t hit back.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“There will be no FRAND or RAND in the future, because to make those available is to make it easier for competitors to sue you and you can’t hit back.”

I’m not all that sure there’s much in the way of FRAND or RAND now.

You’re right about the affect of exclusionary tools — patents — to software was the concern the tech industry had when they came about. Even Bill Gates expressed these concerns!

That they’re inappropriate to start with is made worse by USPTO inspectors who seem totally unfamiliar with tech ignoring “minor” details like prior art — the one click patent is a beautiful example.

Yeah, Samsung got it’s injunction in Germany against Apple so Apple turned around and got one against Samsung in the US.

Kept lawyers busy but didn’t do consumers any good, the market any good or innovation any good.

Once the likes of Brazil, India and China get going it’ll get even worse. Innovation and, even, invention, will grind to a halt while innovators and inventors spend years checking out patents rather than bringing new ideas and ways of doing things to market.

Not exactly what patents were supposed to do. The polar opposite in fact.

patent litigation (user link) says:

excessive

What I understand is that the UN is especially focused on the recent spike in litigation over standards-essential patents. I agree that this is a particular problem, as excessive import bans and patent litigation in this area have the potential to substantially — and unnecessarily — increase the costs to consumers; it will be interesting to see what (if anything) happens as a result of the UN talks.

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