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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    Alana (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

    I'm sorry, I've patented a method of getting groups together to discuss patents.

    Anyone discussing this will be infringing upon my stupidly overreaching patent.

    /s

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    Not inviting the trolls may have been a good move on their part.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      While I agree it may be a good move, I do have some reservations on keeping them out since they are involved. I might not understand the finer points but it seems similar to leaving the public out of TPP. Even if it's a good thing now, it seems to be a bad precedent.

       

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

      Re: Invitation Only

      ...but then who would show up?

      ;-P

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2012 @ 5:11am

      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?

       

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    Vog (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    I think the ITU might want to give pat-downs at the door.

     

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    maclypse (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:30pm

    Let's hope it IS wishful thinking...

    ...because if the few major players got together and played nice and only used patents to assassinate all small startups, then we'd have a patent cartel that would be very hard to break. And he'll, it can't be a bad thing if the UN is in charge of it, right?

     

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      Niall (profile), Jul 13th, 2012 @ 4:50am

      Re: Let's hope it IS wishful thinking...

      It'll be heck of a lot better than if the US is in charge of it!

      Honestly, why are certain segments of the US as hostile to the US as they are to national government, human dignity and fair play?

       

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    sehlat (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

    As Heinlein Once Commented

    Ever seen one of those exhibits of a lion lying down with a lamb? It's startling, but the lamb needs replaced every so often. Each company sees itself as a lion and the others...

     

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    Lozine, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 4:55pm

    I've patenting patenting patents, so patent groups infringe on my patent.

     

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    Beech, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    ITU's approach

    "Hey guys, all these patent suits are silly. You're all huge corporations with MUCH better things to do with your time and money than waste it on prolonged legal squabblings. Things like, making contributions to the members of the ITU, perhaps? Let's all agree to just give us some money and let bygones be bygones!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 6:21pm

    "...and leaving the many trolls out of it."

    So Apple isn't invited?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 7:28pm

    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.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 7:33pm

    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?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

      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.

       

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        TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 13th, 2012 @ 9:08am

        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.

         

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      drew (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 11:10pm

      Re:

      Think they'll need a bit more than a few bottles of champagne to get this lot to agree, i'd suggest pumping the aircon full of hashish...

      Samsung rep: dude, we, like, totally came up with that idea in 2005!
      Apple rep: Man, we came up with that in 2005 too!
      SR: no waaay!
      AR: Sweet!
      SR: Dude!

       

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    Pixelation, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 9:47pm

    Why?

    Why would the UN want to go and ruin our entertainment? Techdirt would have the number of stories reduced by a third if the UN stopped the patent wars. I for one am against destroying entertainment solely to promote the progress...

     

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    Andrew F (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 10:04pm

    Non-legacy players

    Here's who the negotiations leave out -- the companies that don't exist yet.

    5 years from now, a start up may create an amazing new piece of technology, yet run afoul of the current patent thicket. Will any of negotiating parties adequately represent the interests of a not-yet-existing competitor? Doubtful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2012 @ 3:20am

    'That seems like wishful thinking'

    more like a waste of time. if one company thinks it is going to lose out on any money at sll, it is not going to go along with any changes, especially ones that may actually benefit customers. let's face it, customers are always the last ones to be taken into consideration!

     

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    patent litigation, Jul 16th, 2012 @ 9:32am

    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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