After Decades Of Demanding China 'Respect' US Patent Law, Senator Rubio Pushes Law That Says US Can Ignore Huawei Enforcing Patents

from the oh-come-on dept

For well over a decade we've discussed the short-sightedness of the US repeatedly demanding that China "respect" US intellectual property, because China has only turned that around on the US, and used Chinese patents as a way to block American competitors from entering the Chinese market. Things seemed to go up a notch recently, after the US government expanded its attempts to block Huawei from the US market, and Huawei suddenly remembered it owned a shit ton of patents and started demanding Verizon pay on the order of a billion dollars or face patent infringement claims.

As we discussed, Huawei was just following the established playbook of using the US's bizarrely stupid obsession with "patents" against the US itself. Hilariously, Huawei's CEO was just recently quoted as insisting that the company would not "weaponize" its patents, at the same time that it was clear that that's exactly what Huawei is doing. Of course, as we've learned over the years, patents are designed to be weaponized and are frequently used as weapons against innovation.

In response to all of this, rather than recognizing that our over emphasis on patents (and our demands that China "respect" those patents) might be a big part of the problem, Senator Marco Rubio, has submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would literally block Huawei from enforcing its patents in US courts. In a tweet, Rubio defended this blatantly protectionist move:

I tend to agree that patents are frequently used to stifle competition and innovation and to retaliate against others, but it does seem bizarre and (once again) stupidly short-sighted to single out Huawei and other Chinese companies (what the amendment effectively does), and say they cannot enforce their US patents in US courts. The law specifically says that companies from countries on the (laughably arbitrary) USTR "priority watch list" cannot "bring or maintain an action for infringement of a patent," nor "file a complaint" with the ITC or "otherwise obtain any relief under the laws of the US."

So it doesn't take a genius chess player to figure out what is likely to happen next. After literally decades of US politicians and diplomats screaming about how China needs to "respect our patents," and when it finally starts using our own patent system against us, sees the US government seek to flat out exclude China from making use of the US patent system... how long will it take for China to do effectively the same thing in China to again block US companies from operating and competing there.

How can the US possibly go around telling other countries to "respect our patents," when the second a country like China starts using our patent system, Congress pushes a law that flat out excludes them from doing so. Rubio's amendment is just decorating the facade that is the claim that patents are a system for protecting innovation. They are not. They are a protectionist, monopolistic trade practice designed to benefit some at the expense of others. Now that a disfavored company -- Huawei -- is making use of them, suddenly Congress wants to pull that ability out from under them. This is not about "respecting" patents. It's about who gets the power to decide who can innovate. And apparently China is not allowed.

Filed Under: china, marco rubio, ndaa, patents, respect
Companies: huawei, verizon


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:17am

    The wrong people using the courts against us

    Listening to Senator Rubio dictating who should be allowed to use the courts as a weapon is like allowing Cornelius Vanderbilt decide what transportation options people should be allowed to use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:58am

    Huawei is using the tactics of patent trolls

    Perhaps, but the difference between Huawei and a patent troll is that Huawei actually makes things.

    Nice of Senator Rubio to notice that our patent system is rife with abuse. Maybe try and fix that, instead of singling out one specific company that's abusing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anonymous, 22 Jun 2019 @ 2:35am

      Re:

      why do you say Huawei is abusing the patent system? surely it's doing nothing wrong or different to a myriad of other companies, both in the USA and world-wide. i suppose the difference is that the USA wants to be able to patent stuff, everywhere, but it thinks no other company should be able to do the same. nor should any other country be allowed to ignore what the USA thinks it is entitled to patent but the USA thinks it should be able to ignore companies that want to patent stuff, including in the USA. in other words, 'dont do as i do, do as i tell you'! isn't this a classic example of bullying? but then, the USA has always been that, hasn't it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:15am

    Working as Intended

    Patents by their current operational design are meant to stifle competition more than generate licensing revenue.
    Just a tool of the Corporateists (Corporationists? Corporatists??) to concentrate wealth, power, and control over people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:45am

    another Senator who has the brains of a rocking horse, but tries to use it when it suits to penalise a company that is outside the US from doing what the US wants to do to it! the old two birds with one stone simply wont work in these circumstances but the US, thinking that it is the best thing ever on Planet Earth, expects every other country to do what it says while it disrespects ALL of those other countries in return!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:47am

    OMG PATENT TROLLS ARE SO BAD!!!

    Lets deal with the ones outside the US and ignore our homegrown ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      And as I noted above, Huawei isn't even a patent troll. Patent trolls don't make things; they exist solely for the purpose of patent enforcement.

      Huawei makes things. It may well be "using the tactics of patent trolls," as Senator Rubio says, but it's not a patent troll itself.

      Huawei's patent claims reveal that the flaws in our patent system go beyond patent trolls. I think banning non-practicing entities from patent enforcement would be a great idea, but it wouldn't prevent companies like Huawei, that actually do use their patents to make products, from actions like these.

      The problems in our patent system are deep and wide. Patent trolls are part of the issue, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re:

        I did mention they weren't a troll before, I was just entertained to see them using the same abusive system thats been ignored until Huawei decided to bitchslap back.

        https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190613/02365642389/huawei-now-using-patent-claims-to-deman d-1-billion-verizon-as-us-tries-to-chase-huawei-out-us-market.shtml#c85

        We have lawmakers working in their own special reality to prop up their loyal donors (something something when we do it its fine when China does it we need to act).
        Patents are supposed to reward innovators, but somehow there are like 5 patents on Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches.
        Lets patent genes, plants, anything we can tack 'on the internet' onto. Rounded rectangles... fscking seriously?

        But but but IP is so valuable!!! And yet somehow we don't require them to contribute anything into the system that conferred that right to them. (See also: Copyright, Trademark)

        A competitor with a better product came to market & we invented a boogeyman to protect our companies shittier solutions. (See also: Cable & Wireless)

        If you can't compete blame everything but your own failings, I mean look at the huge wasteland the **AA's are dealing with while having record incomes yet still screaming they are losing money & need moar law. They have huge tax write-offs and demand everyone else has to pay to protect their valuable IP & the idea that perhaps they should have to do anything beyond make large campagin donations is the highest sin.

        Once upon a time we innovated because there was competition & it was possible to build new upon the shoulders of those who came before... now we reward complacency & those who wait until someone makes a better mouse trap so they can demand to get paid because they control a patent on using a spring in a trap.

        I really wish more people lived in reality & paid attention beyond the soundbites that are misleading.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zof (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:49am

    Well, we are hypocritical garbage

    What I find hilarious is how the hater crowd that shows up to support dumb things the president does, finds no irony in arguing that china are terrible copyright thieves, and lie to their people with their media.

    Yeah. let that sink in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David Longfellow, 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:52am

    Zero empathy

    I have zero empathy for China or its whiny apologists.
    Their theft of US intellectual property is the biggest transfer of wealth in human history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:04am

      Re: Zero empathy

      The "thieving" Chinese industries only exist because greedy shortsighted American capitalists offshored their production and IP to China to exploit their cheep labor. #TrollHarder

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:15am

      Re: Zero empathy

      Those US corporations gave them their IP and then are shocked when Chinese companies produce nearly identical products.

      I don't have any empathy for China, either, but be realistic about how this situation came to be. Not so unlike post-WW2 Japan, another situation of our own creation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 25 Jun 2019 @ 12:03pm

        Re: Re: Zero empathy

        Not to forget that the Us did the exact same thing with respect to European technology and media after the revolution and after the Great Wars where technology and technologists were liberated.
        Russia got submarines and jets while the allies got jets chemistry rockets TV and a few other goodies like physicists.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:25am

      Re: Zero empathy

      What exactly did they steal?
      afaik, corporations gave them the knowhow - is there a contact or something?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re: Zero empathy

        As far as I know, Patents are an artificial monopoly. Real free-market Libertarians should know that the market doesn't need such protections.

        And China is proof of that - they don't give two shits about patents, they just knock themselves out to produce new things as fast as possible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:24am

      Re: Zero empathy

      "Their theft of US intellectual property is the biggest transfer of wealth in human history."

      I thought that happened when the corporations bought laws to let them hide their profits offshore, pay no taxes, & demand a tax refund.

      Pretty sure the wealth of all the little people has been transferred into corporate welfare. But yeah, China knocked off a widget so they are the bad guys... but wait, whats this?? China started following the rules we demanded and now its a horrible thing??

      Mixed messages are bad things.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Zero empathy

      While it could be argued that it's a larger transfer of wealth than, say, when the US didn't observe IP laws of foreign nations and so started companies like Raytheon, RCA, GE, IBM, etc. based on copied (patented) technologies from Europe, that's mostly because the world has got bigger. The "transfer of wealth" here is only the transfer of ideas: the wealth is generated by people who make things and lawyers who sue. Nowadays, the US is making their stuff in China, and so that's where the wealth is being generated. If you want to look at intellectual property as wealth, then yeah... that's being moved to China. But in the case of Huawei, they're a Chinese-backed international corporation that has developed and filed their own patents in the US based on ideas THEY developed. And the US is responding by proposing courts ignore those patents, just like they used to ignore European patents when it was necessary to kickstart technology manufacturing in the US.

      So... I also have zero empathy for the US and its whiny apologists. The theft of European intellectual property is the second biggest transfer of wealth in human history.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Zero empathy

      America is zap brannigan confirmed lol

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 24 Jun 2019 @ 7:43am

      Re: Zero empathy

      "Intellectual Property" is a government granted artificial monopoly. That's not "wealth" by any measurement.

      Besides, ideas are not wealth either; only producing something out of these ideas produces wealth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R,og S/, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:11am

    In other news, China is soon to file a class action lawsuit, in a joint. filing with Ireland, and India, seeking reparations for the theft of labor that built the US railroads.

    But first, China is awaiting news that gun powder and fireworks contributed to the Apollo launch, and the moonlanding, but only AFTER everyone agrees that such things ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:39am

    US demanding that China respect US patents? Citation needed since anyone familiar with patent law realizes that patents do not have extraterritorial effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      The special 301 Report put out annually by the Office of the US trade Representative continues to shame China for weak IP law (page 40 starts the discussion of China at the top of the Priority Watch list, with IP getting top billing). Historically Patents have been a major sticking point in the 301 Report discussion of China.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        True, but that is not what the headline and article say. The author keeps saying that US authorities keep complaining that China is not paying heed to US patents. You, on the other hand, make a comment that trends in the correct direction, I.e., that the US criticizes Chinese law that is viewed as favoring domestic industries within China to the detriment of foreign industries. As a general rule US law treats all inventors equally, which has never been the rule in China (including Taiwan). The same can be said of China’s tech transfer mandates as a condition of doing business in China.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:02am

    Of course this argument of Huawei using the US patent trolls playbook is a non starter that will get laughed out of court. Not because trolling is a valid business model but because Congress is trying to give domestic trolls a pass by not making the practice illegal across the board like it should.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:42am

    who's to blame?

    I dont yet see Congress demanding this. Rubio sure, but its not Congress yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 12:40pm

    No really, pull that trigger

    Pass that law and every country on the planet will feel free to ignore US patents, and if the USG objects they will merely have to point out that they are simply following the USG's lead in ignoring legal claims brought by anyone the government claims isn't acting in good faith.

    If the tools in the USTR think it's bad now, wait until ignoring US imaginary property becomes government sanctioned in a nice bit of 'turnabout is fair play'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 3:43pm

      Re: No really, pull that trigger

      "If the tools in the USTR think it's bad now, wait until ignoring US imaginary property becomes government sanctioned in a nice bit of 'turnabout is fair play'."

      Great point. Which is why we need tariffs. They can copy it, and manufacture it, but if they can't sell it in the U.S., then all they did was hurt our exports. Which is arguably going to happen no matter what we do. You can't stop them from copying our products or IP, but you can restrict their access to our market. You're going to argue that then they will do the same thing? Let them. All that will do is push their manufacturing market share to other countries. Countries that would love the chance to compete here in the U.S. but can't because they can't compete with the endless pool of cheap labor and stolen IP pouring out of China. In my opinion; The short term will sting the U.S. consumer pocket book, but as other countries start picking up the market share, China will either come to the table or collapse. So I agree, pull that trigger, but not on IP protectionism, but on ALL imports from China.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 6:44pm

        Re: Re: No really, pull that trigger

        The short term will sting the U.S. consumer pocket book, but as other countries start picking up the market share, China will either come to the table or collapse. So I agree, pull that trigger, but not on IP protectionism, but on ALL imports from China.

        Uhm, I don't know in what world you are living in - but what you are proposing will gut the USA. There will be no short-term sting, it's going to be a train-wreck in slow motion.

        Manufacturing capacity doesn't just materialize, it takes years and a lot of money to build up capacity. During that time, what are you going to replace the needed imports with?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2019 @ 12:20am

          Re: Re: Re: No really, pull that trigger

          " it's going to be a train-wreck in slow motion."

          That's why you use tariffs and don't just "pull the plug". You start gradually leveling the playing field (increasing tariffs) until manufacturing ramps up in competing countries. If China wants to to do the same, let them. Our trading with China is so one sided already they would only be hurting themselves. The U.S. economy would take a pretty good hit if we cut off trade with China, China would collapse. I'm not advocating we do that, but should they go the nuclear option route, and cut off trade, they would be shooting off their own foot.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Annonymouse, 25 Jun 2019 @ 12:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: No really, pull that trigger

          There is the tried and true method already established by us manufacturers of having components made in China then brokered through a third country. With questionable documentation practices.
          Then finally assembled in the states even if said assembly is just packaging.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2019 @ 6:26am

        Re: Re: No really, pull that trigger

        "Which is why we need tariffs"

        Just another form of taxation, what a great idea - not.

        The donny tariffs have done what? As if patents were the reason for his lunatic tariff convulsions.
        Tariffs do not adjust for the differences in the cost of doing business.
        Tariffs are inflationary, degrade trade and hurt those most vulnerable - no wonder some psychos like it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 1:42pm

    how long will it take for China to do effectively the same thing in China to again block US companies from operating and competing there.

    Zero; they've been doing exactly that since pretty much Day 1, and still are. Not sure what you mean by "again;" they never really stopped. They just got a bit more subtle about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 3:23pm

    wtf ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gerald Robinson (profile), 22 Jun 2019 @ 8:36am

    Patent & Copyright past their best by date?

    At one stage in the evolution of the U.S. Patent and copyright made sense. The advantages of them have been reduced by politics and technology to the point where they actually da mage the U.S. and it's citizens. When products were for physical devices they made sense, but today parents are for methods and ideas (SW). While the Supreme Court has made some good fillings in the area patents simply are no longer useful! Likewise Copyright has bloated to the point it's detremental. With the advent of anti circumve nation the doctrine of first sale is dead and you can no longer own what you buy. Not only does your nifty new refrigerator broadcast private information to everyone in 6 years or less you will have to buy an upgrade as repair will no longer be available (my old dumb refrigerator still works after 30+ years and I can get it fixed). Further copyright of scientific articles is paid for (either the research/publican, or both) with public funds the access to these publications costs $ billions a year and is paid for with public funds.

    There are other examples. Simply throw out Parents and Coyright!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thurgood Blackstone, 22 Jun 2019 @ 9:36am

    Respect?

    The folks in congress, when taking breaks from taking bribes... er, contributions, from so- called lobbyists, and passing laws they don’t understand, nor do most others (thus, the appellate process), especially the enforcement folks ( love the asset forfeiture laws, but no need to understand the laws, especially anything related to probable cause), let alone respect laws.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2019 @ 1:48am

    NDAA??

    The greater issue is the way that congress passes laws. Putting this dumpster fire in the NDAA is a classic act.

    Who is the head of the relevant committee that allowed this to be stuffed into the NDAA?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Alta987 (profile), 24 Jun 2019 @ 2:13am

    Review

    The "transfer of wealth" here is only the transfer of ideas: the wealth is generated by people who make things and lawyers who sue. Nowadays, the US is making their stuff in China, and so that's where the wealth is being generated. If you want to look at intellectual property as wealth, then yeah... that's being moved to China. But in the case of Huawei, they're a Chinese-backed international corporation that has developed and filed their own patents in the US based on ideas THEY developed. https://www.krogerfeedback.vip/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2019 @ 9:42am

    this is simply another manifestation of the guiding principle of all our lives: it's ok if i do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2019 @ 7:13pm

    block Chinese company filing patent applications in US is the best way, Senator. You are stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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