Posts Tagged: "FTC"

Senators Push for Vote on American Innovation and Choice Online Act Despite Criticisms on Bill’s Regulatory Enforcement Mechanisms

On June 8, news reports indicated that U.S. Senators from both sides of the political aisle were confident that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee this January, has the necessary votes to pass the Senate and move on to the U.S. House of Representatives. While several top Senate lawmakers continue to argue that the bill will enact much needed antitrust enforcement mechanisms against Big Tech, the bill has several critics and has raised midterm election concerns for some Senators facing tough re-election cycles.

Examining the Confounding Public Interest Statement by the FTC in a Recent ITC Investigation

On May 17, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) submitted to Lisa Barton, Secretary of the International Trade Commission (ITC), a statement they believed was relevant to the public interest considerations before the Commission in a matter involving certain UMTS and LTE cellular communication modules (337-TA-1240). The ITC in many cases will invite statements on the Public Interest, and the FTC is often invited to make a submission. It should be noted, however,  “Public Interest” in the ITC is a matter of statute, and there are four public interest factors which are statutory. Any statement in the Public Interest must address one or more of those factors. Other matters not within the statute are not public interest factors.

Trademarks Are Not Patents: The Second Circuit Rejects FTC Challenge to Trademark Settlements in 1-800 Contacts

In “big IP cases that count,” the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had a mixed record lately, going one-for-three – good in baseball but bad in government appellate litigation. (The biggest recent FTC loss that counts, the Supreme Court’s unanimous April 2021 AMG decision (see here), did not involve IP, but had major negative implications for the FTC’s future ability to obtain monetary relief in IP-related prosecutions). In August 2020, the Ninth Circuit vacated a district court “finding that Qualcomm had engaged in unlawful licensing practices, and reversed a permanent, worldwide injunction against several of Qualcomm’s core business practices.” (The full Ninth Circuit subsequently denied the FTC’s request for rehearing en banc, and the FTC threw in the towel in March 2021, electing not to seek Supreme Court review).

Restoring IP Rights After the Destructive, Unjust Antitrust Rendering in FTC v. Qualcomm

If a judge ever botched an antitrust case involving patents, the prize may go to federal district Judge Lucy Koh for her ruling in favor of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its antitrust action against Qualcomm. The intersection of intellectual property and antitrust is riddled with land mines and booby traps. The danger of getting an IP issue in this vicinity wrong becomes all the more likely after the Koh ruling and, thus, all the more dangerous and far-reaching. Judge Koh managed to step on several trip wires in her decision for the FTC in a case that should never have been brought, never tried, and should have been withdrawn or dropped. The damage from this ruling will reverberate far beyond the global leader in wireless connectivity technology the FTC unfairly hammered in this case. “Patents are a form of property,” Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim has said, “and the right to exclude is one of the most fundamental bargaining rights a property owner possesses. Rules that deprive a patent holder from exercising this right . . . undermine the incentive to innovate.” Basic principles like property rights, exclusivity, dynamic competition and the incentive to innovate escaped Judge Koh’s grasp.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday May 24: Coons Requests Info on Alexa Privacy, Congress Pushes 101 Reform, and Qualcomm Will Appeal Its Loss to the FTC

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Chinese state media pushes back on the United States’ claims of intellectual property theft; a bipartisan coalition from both houses of Congress releases a draft proposal of Section 101 patent law reform; Senator Coons seeks more information on Amazon’s privacy practices for Alexa devices; the city of Baltimore files a lawsuit over a scheme to delay market entry of a generic to the Zytiga prostate cancer treatment; the USITC institutes a patent infringement investigation of Comcast after several complaints from Rovi; USPTO Deputy Director Peters files a petition brief in a Supreme Court case over USPTO personnel expenses incurred during litigation instigated by patent applicants; and Qualcomm plans to appeal adverse ruling in Northern California antitrust case brought by the FTC.

Qualcomm Survives Apple Manipulation, But FTC Continues Reckless Pursuit

Now that Apple and Qualcomm have made peace it would be easy to allow the case and the issues to recede into the background. That is likely what Apple would prefer, and almost certainly why Apple made the decision to settle with Qualcomm rather than proceed with trial. The case presented an existential threat for Qualcomm, which would have required the San Diego tech company to fight as if the company depended on victory–because it did.  What is most shocking is how successful Apple was in its coordinated effort to manipulate the licensing market and effectively extinguish any reasonable notion of a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rate (FRAND) in the process. Meanwhile, fabricated licensing rates wholly unrelated to the Qualcomm portfolio were used by Apple to dupe regulators into chasing Qualcomm across the world for committing phantom antitrust violations.

Dangers Lie in U.S. Government’s Conflicted Actions Toward Qualcomm, Huawei

5G, or 5th generation wireless communication, has reached the point of determining which core technologies will be used. Suddenly, decisions about which companies will be picked are upon us. And the stakes could hardly be higher — for the companies and for our national (and American citizens’) security. The two businesses in the ring, Qualcomm and Huawei, each find themselves in a tough fight to dominate the IP-based 5G technology on which countless devices—from automobiles to mobile phones to who-knows-what—will interoperate. The 5G platform will empower the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence writ large and more—a technological advance with tremendous potential as well as tremendous risk exposure to spies, hackers and such. Both companies face hurdles from the U.S. government. One makes sense. The other makes no sense.

Other Barks & Bites: IP News to Watch, February 1, 2019

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Huawei is in hot water with both the U.S. and UK governments, while Qualcomm has just completed a new patent licensing deal with Huawei; IBM tops a new global list for most artificial intelligence-related patent applications filed; Apple files another appeal of a major patent infringement damages award handed to VirnetX in the Eastern District of Texas; and see how the biggest IP players are doing Wall Street.

FTC v. Qualcomm: Court Requires Licensing of Standard Essential Patents to Competitors

The Qualcomm decision is unique in that it appears to be the first decision to require a SEP holder to license its patented technology to its competitors, and not just its downstream customers, on FRAND terms.  This decision casts doubt on the longstanding practice, common in industries such as the telecommunication and automotive industries, in which SEP holders seek to secure “FRAND” licenses with downstream companies that make finished products, while refusing to license (or licensing on non-FRAND terms) those same SEPs to their competitors or other companies further up the supply chain (such as component suppliers).  The decision also emphasizes U.S. courts’ focus on the express language of SSOs’ IPR policies and the willingness to review the SSO guidelines in interpreting the agreements SEP holders enter into with SSOs.  In this regard, the decision may bode well for SEP implementers, given the court’s broad understanding of what it means to “practice” a relevant standard and its view that SEP holders’ FRAND obligations extend to all potential licensees, irrespective of their position in the supply chain.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Connected to World Patent Marketing Fraudulent Scheme to Bilk Inventors

In May 2018, Scott Cooper and his companies, World Patent Marketing Inc. and Desa Industries Inc., agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business, and ordered payment of $25,987,192. The FTC charged World Patent Marketing with being nothing more than a scam, bilking millions of dollars from inventors. “The record supports a preliminary finding that Defendants devised a fraudulent scheme to use consumer funds to enrich themselves,” concluded United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles as he issued a preliminary injunction in August 2017. Matthew G. Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General of the United States who ascended to the position with the resignation of Jeff Sessions, served on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing. Worse, Whitaker was involved in some of the egregious intimidation that led to the charges, issuance of an injunction and ultimately the settlement.

Has Big Tech Finally Become Too Big for the FTC to Ignore?

Some of the questions the FTC is interested in investigating and discussing during this inquiry include whether changes in the economy and evolving businesses have created competition and consumer protection issues in communication and information technology networks, market power and entry barriers in markets featuring “platform” businesses, the role of intellectual property in competition, and a variety of issues surrounding the security and use of big data… With networks, market power, platforms, intellectual property and big data being the focal point of the FTC inquiry, there is little doubt that the big tech giants of Silicon Valley are the targets of this FTC competition review. For those in innovator community the feeling will no doubt be that such a government inquiry is long overdue.

The Abuse of Orange Book Listings by Branded Pharmaceutical Companies

AbbVie’s maneuver worked like clockwork to induce regulatory gridlock, which prevented generic competition and kept the company’s profits high at public expense, for years. Fortunately, the FTC would have none of it. The agency filed suit against AbbVie in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2014, accusing the company of illegal monopolization under the antitrust laws. The gravamen of the FTC’s complaint was that AbbVie wrongfully filed objectively-baseless sham litigations, to block generic competition.

Do you have Technology to block Robocalls? The FTC & FCC Want You!

The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission want you — at least if you are an innovator with a solution for preventing illegal Robocalls. On April 23, the FTC and FCC will also co-host a ‘Stop Illegal Robocalls Expo’ at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Washington, D.C… It is wonderful that the FTC and FCC are looking for technology solutions to combat the ever increasing problem of Robocalls, but coming up with a technology solution as seems to be desired by the FTC and FCC will be all the more difficult in a world where the USPTO and federal courts are openly hostile to software related innovations.

FTC can Proceed Against AT&T for Throttling Data Speed of ‘Unlimited’ Data Users

AT&T Mobility argued in a motion to dismiss that they were exempt from the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) because they qualify as a “common carrier.” Specifically, Section 5 of the FTC Act gives the agency enforcement authority over “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” but exempts “common carriers subject to the Acts to regulate commerce.” 15 U.S.C § 45(a)(1), (2). AT&T Mobility’s motion to dismiss the action was denied… The en banc Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court and overruled the previous three judge panel. The en banc Ninth Circuit ruled earlier today that “common carrier” immunity only attaches when a company is engaging in common-carrier services.

When Kids’ Toys Are Listening, the FTC is Watching

Chinese toymaker VTech recently settled charges with the FTC in the first-ever case involving internet-connected toys. VTech became a victim of cyber attackers back in 2015, when hackers got access to the company’s online database and compromised accounts of over 11 million, which included data for about 6.37 million children… Today, the key to compliance when dealing with IoT is to “know thyself,” Bahar explained. In other words, take the time to understand what truly is in these smart components, not only from a technical perspective but a legal one. In addition, make sure to make good on your promises. If you tell consumers that you are protecting their data or their privacy in certain ways, make sure you are making good on that commitment.