China's New Antitrust Rules Aim To Blunt Foreign Patent Threat
from the do-as-you-would-be-done-by dept
For years, the West -- particularly the US -- has been complaining about China's "lack of respect" for patents. And for years, Techdirt has been pointing out that China is actually a big fan of patents: its companies have been building up their own patent hoards at a rapid pace, and starting to deploy them against Western competitors. A report on Bloomberg Business explores how the Chinese government is also seeking to neutralize the threat of patents being used against its own manufacturers through the introduction of new antitrust rules:
The clampdown on patents has the potential to alter the balance of power in the global mobile-phone industry, which generated $412 billion last year, according to IDC. These new rules may weaken the ability of Apple, Microsoft Corp. and Qualcomm -- typically among the top 15 U.S. patent recipients each year -- to compete in China, the world's largest mobile-phone market, and other countries that follow.
There are two main elements to China's new policy, both of which will make it harder for Western companies to use key patents against Chinese competitors:
One involves patent values for technology included in industry standards, such as Wi-Fi. The other may require unique features -- like Apple’s slide-to-unlock feature, or Microsoft software that synchronizes calendars -- to be licensed by others if considered "dominant" or “essential.”
As the Bloomberg Business article rightly points out:
The Chinese ... are just formalizing what 100 years of legal precedent has done in the U.S. and Europe, and a lot will depend on how the governments implement the rules, antitrust lawyers said.
In other words, China will soon be "respecting" patents just as much as its Western counterparts -- and doubtless deploying them just as aggressively for competitive advantage.