You wouldn’t like Mark Cuban when he’s angry, patent trolls. In an interview with TechCrunch this week, the famed businessman and investor issued a sweeping broadside against the United States patent system by claiming that “dumbass patents are crushing small businesses.” Cuban has recently teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation digital rights group to start a campaign to “eliminate stupid patents” that he says is trying to “get the message to politicians that patent trolls are costing taxpayers… and small businesses money that could otherwise be used for innovation and creating jobs.” Cuban says that he’d like to either end software patents or give them a much shorter shelf life, to end design patents all together, and to “require that all patents be used in a business within five years or otherwise become public domain.” It’s tough to say whether any of Cuban’s recommendations will ever see the light of day, but it is nice to see yet another high-profile voice calling for reform of American intellectual property laws.
The United States Department of Justice is wondering what part of “standard essential patents” tech companies don’t understand. Per Reuters, the DOJ and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week put out a joint policy statement saying that companies should only be entitled to modest monetary compensation if others use their standard essential patents, and that they shouldn’t use those patents to seek outright sales bans of rivals’ products. The agencies’ reassertion of this principle is notable because Google (GOOG) last week agreed to stop using the standard essential patents acquired from Motorola in offensive patent lawsuits against competitors. Standard essential patents, for those who don’t know, cover key technologies that entire industries need to use in order to operate. Typically owners of these patents must agree to license them in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory fashion.
Are there any technology companies Samsung (005930) isn’t fighting in court right now? LG Display (LPL), of which Android vendor LG Electronics (066570) owns a majority stake, confirmed on Friday that it has filed an injunction seeking to ban Galaxy Note 10.1 sales in South Korea. The panel maker claims the tablet infringes three of its patents relating to its display technologies and it is looking to ban sales of the device as a result. LG Display is also seeking damages of nearly $1 billion from Samsung affiliate Samsung Display if the Galaxy Note 10.1 remains on the market. More →
Samsung (005930) could face a $15 billion fine in Europe alone for using “standard-essential” patents in its attempts to ban devices like the iPhone in its ongoing patent battle with Apple (AAPL). The Guardian reports that the European commission could impose a massive fine of up to 10% of Samsung’s global turnover following its investigation into Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents in complaints filed against Apple in Europe. Samsung’s revenue totaled $148.9 billion in 2011, so fines in Europe alone could reach $14.8 billion. More →
Research In Motion (RIMM) and Nokia (NOK) announced last week that the companies had settled their differences and agreed to end all unresolved patent disputes. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it was believed that RIM would pay a hefty up-front free in addition to ongoing royalty payments in order to license various Nokia patents covering mobile WLAN technologies and more. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission uncovered by The Guardian, however, some light has been shed on those terms. More →
Kodak announced on Wednesday it has successfully sold its digital imaging patents to “12 intellectual property licensees organized by Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corporation” for $525 million. As Engadget notes, Intellectual Ventures is working on behalf of Apple (AAPL) and RPX Corporation is representing Google (GOOG). The new deal is “one of Kodak’s key restructuring objectives” that will see it emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and end its battle with Apple over patent disputes. Kodak’s press release follows below.
According to research from a law professor at Santa Clara University, individuals and companies that do not create technology themselves but instead acquire patents to target other companies were behind a majority of the patent infringement lawsuits in the United States in 2012 for the first time ever, Reuters reported. These companies, more commonly known as patent trolls, have accounted for 61% of all patent lawsuits filed through December 1st, compared to 45% in 2011 and 23% in 2007. More →
Steve Jobs’ impact on Apple (AAPL) is still being felt more than a year after his passing. According to patents discovered by AppleInsider, Apple now owns the patent to the iPhone 4 and its external antenna design, iPad 2, Smart Cover, iPhone 4/4S Bumper, L-shaped MagSafe found on previous generation MacBooks. The patents are accredited to the late Jobs and Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of Industrial Design. As designers and artists, as Jobs liked to be called, both men were responsible for designing Apple’s most iconic products since Jobs returned to Apple in 1996.
Research In Motion (RIMM) shares were riding high recently until new market share data released by Kantar Worldpanel sent RIM’s stock tumbling on Tuesday. More bad news comes Wednesday morning as RIM has lost a patent dispute with Nokia (NOK) that could see BlackBerry smartphones banned unless RIM agrees to pay royalties. The dispute surrounding Nokia patents that cover mobile WLAN technology went to arbitration in Sweden recently, and the arbitrator on Wednesday ruled that “RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia,” Nokia said in a statement. The ruling covers all BlackBerry devices and Nokia says it has filed similar complaints in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Nokia’s full statement follows below. More →
Apple (AAPL) and HTC (2498) shocked the tech world last week when the pair announced that they had agreed to a patent settlement and resolved all of their open disputes. The deal served as a ray of light for other Android vendors, and a sign that Apple’s “thermonuclear war” on Android might be coming to an end. Subsequent estimates from Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu suggested HTC agreed to pay Apple between $6 and $8 per Android device shipped to license its various mobile patents for the next 10 years, however company CEO Peter Chou has refuted Wu’s estimates, calling them “outrageous” according to Reuters. At $6 to $8 per device shipped, Apple would have pulled in as much as $280 million from the deal in 2013, as HTC is expected to ship as many as 35 million smartphones next year according to Sterne Agee’s estimates.
After a U.S. District judge in Wisconsin threw out Apple’s (AAPL) patent lawsuit against Motorola earlier this month, Bloomberg reports the two companies might consider arbitration to settle their patent disputes. According to Bloomberg, Apple said in a recent filing that it’s “interested in resolving its dispute with Motorola completely and agrees that arbitration may be the best vehicle to resolve the parties’ dispute.” The two companies have reportedly been exchanging proposals that would use arbitration to “lead to a global settlement of all of their patent disputes.” More →
A new study confirms what we’ve all suspected based on anecdotal evidence: Suits filed by patent trolls have gone way up over the past few years. As Ars Technica reports, the new study headed up by UC Hastings law professor Robin Feldman used data from Stanford Law’s Lex Machina intellectual property database and found that “the fraction of lawsuits filed by troll-like entities grew from 22 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2011.” More →
In another unwelcome development for Android OEMs, a German court has slapped the Google (GOOG)-owned Motorola with a sales ban for allegedly infringing upon patents held by Microsoft (MSFT). AllThingsD reports that the court banned a number of Motorola smartphones and tablets for infringing a patent that details “a method and system for receiving user input data into a computer system having a graphical windowing environment.” To make things worse, Microsoft is alleging that the patent in question covers a feature that is a core part of Android and can’t be easily designed around. Google has not yet appealed the verdict, AllThingsD says, but it likely will. More →