ITC Not Impressed With Latest Smartphone Patent Thicket Cases

from the patent-protectionism dept

In the past, we've pointed out how many patent holders now get two entirely separate cracks at trying to get those they accuse of patent infringement to pay up. There's the regular court system and there's an entirely separate International Trade Commission (ITC) process, as well. Basically, the ITC can make rulings preventing importing infringing works, totally outside of the court system. And, of course, since so many things are made outside the US these days, this could create an effective injunction against those products in the entire US market. One of the key problems is that the ITC uses different standards than the court system to determine if such an injunction is an appropriate step.

With the massive patent thicket on smartphones, leading to a bunch of lawsuits, many are using both the court system and the ITC to try to force the other side to give in and just pay up. However, so far, it appears that the ITC is not playing along. We recently noted that the ITC indicated it was rejecting Nokia's claims that Apple's iPhone violated some of its patents, and now the ITC has indicated that it won't side with Apple in its claims against HTC and Nokia.

In other words: keep your silly patent pissing fight out of the ITC.

If the ITC keeps rejecting these attempts to stifle competition via the patent system, then hopefully companies will stop using this little loophole to get to extra bites of the (proverbial) apple.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 9:05pm

    I am not sure the report about Apple is accurate. It is my understanding that the staff at the ITC is making such a recommendation, but as regards the final outcome at the ITC it is merely advisory.

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

  2. identicon
    Florian Mueller, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Just a recommendation, but a certain trend

    You are right that the ITC staff only makes a recommendation, not a decision. It's a third party to the proceedings, not like a team working directly for the judge. That said, there's now a pattern of negative tendencies in smartphone-related ITC complaints. It remains to be seen what happens in some of the other cases (especially the ones between Apple and Motorola, and Microsoft and Motorola).

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

  3. identicon
    abc gum, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 5:40am

    Smart phone? Don't need it.
    These folks will evenutally lose their customer base due to their infighting and ridiculous pricing. And they will point the finger elsewhere, of course.

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

  4. icon
    DannyB (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 6:55am


    > These folks will evenutally lose their customer base

    Smartphone market share is growing very rapidly.

    > due to their infighting

    Not all smartphone OEM's or builders of operating systems are bad guys.

    > and ridiculous pricing

    My android smartphone cost $108 on contract. 1 GHz. 1 GB RAM. 16 GB internal storage + empty microSD card slot. 5 Megapixel.

    My wife's android smartphone also cost $108 on contract. 1.2 GHz. 768 MB RAM. 2 GB internal storage + 8 GB microSD card. 8 megapixel.

    > And they will point the finger elsewhere, of course.

    Assuming your scenario comes true, which all evidence seems to be against.

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

  5. icon
    DannyB (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 7:03am

    What the ITC should do

    Whenever the ITC has a PAIR of parties locked in suit-countersuit, then they should AUTOMATICALLY GRANT both sides request for a total injunction on importation and sale of both companies' products.

    Yes, I'm serious.

    I seem to recall a patent suit/countersuit between Intel/Motorola back in the late 1980s'. Don't remember who started what. Back in the day we read the industry trade rags like MacWeek, PC Week, etc, before the web. What I do distinctly remember is this: the judge granted both parties injunctions. It was immediately illegal for both Intel and Motorola to ship their respective microprocessors in the US. A settlement was announced the following business day.

    Amazing how that worked.

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

  6. icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Re: What the ITC should do

    +1, I like it.

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

  7. icon
    Atkray (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Re: What the ITC should do

    But think of the Lawyers.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    "$108 on contract."
    over $2000 for entire length of contract. We're not including app fees, overages, accessories, etc.

    Let's not get into the app store models are far far more restrictive than what you get with other computing devices. They also have been proven to spy on you (developers of legit programs, we're not even talking malicious intent programs!)

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

  9. icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), Apr 22nd, 2011 @ 9:52pm

    Patent thickets

    IMO, the proper way to deal with patent thickets would be to invalidate all overlapping patents as evident obviousness.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re:

    "My android smartphone cost $108 on contract."

    You should have come to me. I could have gotten it for you for "free", on one of my special contracts of course.

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

  11. identicon
    patent litigation, Apr 25th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    Even so, the outcome of the patent litigation between Apple and Nokia is far from certain. As noted by Alexander Poltorak at GPC: "One cannot help wondering if the latest round [of suits between Apple and Nokia] is not a proxy for a fight between Microsoft and Apple, which are rivals as well." It's questionable whether these mobile wars should take place in the courts, in the form of patent litigation, or should be properly restricted to the marketplace, where they rightfully belong. Whatever one's position on the issue, however, it's true that as long as IP rights exist, then patentees have every legal right to enforce them.

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

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