At the heart of policy disputes over standard essential patents is a simple truth: Companies whose products depend on standardized technologies want to increase their profit margins by cutting input costs – the royalties they pay to use standardized technologies invented and patented by other companies.
In other words, policy conflicts over standard essential patents (SEPs) tend to pit implementing companies against inventing-and-licensing companies, one business model against another.
So when in the course of patent policymaking it becomes necessary to examine the worthiness of alleged scholarship about SEPs, a decent respect for the consumers and markets ultimately affected requires policy makers to examine the scholarship’s origin and separate fact from advocacy.
Such is the case for a new “working paper” that entered the standards debate last month with a controversial thesis that generated headlines and a lot discussion in patent circles. Its title: “The Smartphone Royalty Stack: Surveying Royalty Demands for the Components Within Modern Smartphones.” Its authors: Ann Armstrong, associate general counsel at Intel, as well as Joseph J. Mueller and Timothy D. Syrett, two lawyers at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr who work for Intel.
Qualcomm’s strong research and development activities in chipsets and other wireless telecommunications products are regularly featured in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Today, we’ve scoured the recently issued patents and published patent applications from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to find the most intriguing inventions assigned to Qualcomm. Our search rendered up a variety of technologies designed to improve wireless communications networks that may interest our readers.
Our featured application in today’s column discusses one Qualcomm technology designed to establish a call session across a network for the real time transmission of text messages. This data system could also be used to aid data transmission for mobile banking and other applications. We also discuss a couple of intriguing systems for detecting physical movement of a device owner, including one invention which provides a navigational guide for indoor environments.
A few months have gone by since our last check, so it’s the perfect time to return to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Database to see what inventions have been assigned to Qualcomm in recent weeks. We’ve noticed patent applications and issued patents galore that chart an intriguing path of technological innovation that may turn into services which are widespread through electronic devices. Here at IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we’ve analyzed what makes these inventions revolutionary and share our favorites with our readers.
Fuel efficiency and carbon reduction from vehicle use are the main thrust of our featured patent application today. This patent application describes a system by which a fuel transaction can be uploaded to a carbon credit management system for applying rewards to vehicle owners. Electronic device owners who are walking around in urban centers may find better mapping applications because of two other recently published Qualcomm applications.
Periodically I stumble across a number of items that catch my attention, so I have occasionally published a monthly column that incorporates various items of possible interest. As I was reviewing the wire I noticed that this past week was particularly busy. Obviously, this is not intended to be an exhaustive summary, but rather interesting items that might be worth knowing about in order to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.
Without further ado, here are some interesting patent business items from the past week.
Almost a quarter of all European patent filings originate from the US
US patent filings in Europe grew by 2.8% to highest figure ever
General Electric and Qualcomm biggest patent filers from the US
US companies strongest in medical technology and IT sector
EPO President Benoît Battistelli: “Europe is a premier hub of innovation.”
Brussels, 6 March 2014 – Patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) hit a new record in 2013, with applications coming from the US growing by 2.8% (2012: +5.1%). Last year US companies deposited 64 967, or 24.5%, of all European patent filings (2012: 63 198), which confirms the US as the No. 1 among all countries at the EPO, ahead of Japan (52 437; +1.2%) and Germany (32 022, -5.4%). It is the highest number of patents ever filed by US companies within one year at the EPO.
In the last decade, European patent filings originating in the US grew an average 2.2% per year. Since 2004 the number of US patent filings in Europe has risen by more than 20%.
Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Qualcomm Incorporated is a major player in the manufacture of digital wireless devices and associated telecommunications products and services. This technology developer produces an array of semiconductor products, like their Snapdragon processors, that power many of the smartphones and tablet computers available in today’s electronic device market. Recent comments made by company officials at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas indicate that the corporation is moving beyond a smartphone focus to work on improvements to tablet and even vehicle connectivity.
It’s been a little while since our last check-in with Qualcomm for our Companies We Follow series, and the new year finds the corporation developing a number of innovations that involve a variety of interesting computing systems. Each of these inventions is described fully in either a patent application or issued patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to Qualcomm. Fans of Qualcomm’s mobile device products will also notice some conspicuous improvements to the company’s current smartphone components.
What is clear every time we look at Qualcomm is that the company’s innovation profile defies easy characterization because Qualcomm simply innovates, and innovates and innovates. For example, today we begin looking at a patent application that could very well bring the value of having a massive scope of retail products available for purchase online directly into brick-and-mortar stores. This computing system would allow a store to detect that a shopper is comparing prices online through a device and then provide a discount offer that could entice the customer into buying the item in the store. Then we briefly discuss other interesting patent applications that relate to a mobile video terminal that could assist in patient physical therapy, as well as a system of reducing a device’s processor power to control internal temperature.
Tech sector giants have been crying and moaning about how the patent system has run amok and needs to be scaled back, and continually beg for patent reform that would gut the patent system and weaken patent rights. Immediately after successfully lobbying for the America Invents Act (AIA), they are back at it again supporting new legislation aimed at making it more difficult to enforce patent rights pending in Congress. If they prevail with the passage of the Innovation Act, they will be back at it again no doubt. The longer term goal is to strip the International Trade Commission of its patent jurisdiction, which would make it impossible to stop the importation of infringing goods prior to entering the country. See Will the ITC Lose Its Patent Jurisdiction and Are Some Patent Holders More Equal Than Others?
The grumbling of the tech giants is increasingly being picked up by patent abolitionists who say “see, even Microsoft thinks there should be no patents,” which only adds to the hysteria. Of course, Microsoft is one of the top patenting companies year after year and they aggressively pursue software patens themselves. So while some of Microsoft’s public statements suggest that they do not like software patents, they aggressively seek them and then aggressively pursue licensing strategies. So it seems that Microsoft may talk a good game about software patents being undesirable and a real scourge, but when push comes to shove they will get as many patents as they can. Quite curious if you ask me!
So why do the tech giants want to make it hard for small businesses and individuals to get patents? Do you remember when “Wang” was synonymous with “computer,” or at least “word processor”? Perhaps not, but once upon a time it was indeed. The story of Wang is the story of technology companies generally speaking. What has always been true is that technology companies that reach the top are only passing through on their way down; to be replaced by smaller, leaner companies that pursue appropriate strategies and have solid and expandable innovations in demand.
Even mighty Microsoft couldn’t maintain their monopoly, and only the foolish would anticipate Google, Facebook and other tech giants to be on top indefinitely. That isn’t how the tech sector works, or is intended to work. But if a vibrant, robust and strong patent system is not there for start-ups today they will never become the giant, innovation shifting, growth companies of the future. That would be terrible for the economy, lead to stagnant innovation and guarantee that slothful, giant companies that have lost the ability to innovate would remain dominant rather than going the way of the dinosaur.
The San Diego-based semiconductor developer known as Qualcomm Incorporated is a major global developer of digital wireless telecommunications technologies. Its software and electronic hardware components are used by a wide array of smartphones, tablets and other computing devices that are widely available on the consumer market today. Financially, Qualcomm is one of the strongest semiconductor companies around, and it recently announced that it would be providing money to investors through a $5 billion share buyback program. The company has already spent $4.5 billion on similar investor buybacks during the 2013 fiscal year as it attempts to attract more investment interest.
We’ve taken a look before at this major corporation, headquartered in the state of California, but we’re returning today with IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series to see what’s taken place at Qualcomm in the interim. We’ve pulled up a lot of patent applications and issued patents assigned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to get an idea of what this company has in store in the coming months.
Today, we feature a very interesting patent application from Qualcomm that would protect a system of determining whether a device is being transported in a vehicle. This system could detect multiple modes of transportation and adjust a device’s functionality in response. Other patent applications discuss improvements to covering network holes for better connectivity among device users, as well as a more responsive system of detecting malware before receiving a notification about potential malware from a central service.