Posts Tagged: "Licensing"

The Way FRAND Concepts are Applied in Other Sectors Illustrates the U.S. Government’s Orwellian View of Patent Rights

A while back, we set up an email alert to advise us of any legal developments involving fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing. Somewhat to our surprise, the notion of requiring FRAND terms and conditions for obtaining access to the otherwise exclusive property rights of others is not limited to patents essential to industry standards. Rather, FRAND licensing concepts, or minor variations thereof (e.g. “just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory”), appear in government regulation of stockyards (see 7 USC §208), vehicular air pollution information (see California’s Health and Safety Code §43105.5 (7)), and airports (see La. R.S. §1:135.1), to name a few.

Kudos to USPTO, DOJ, NIST for Abandoning a Bad Draft, but Future Remains Murky for SEP Holders

In a recent surprise decision, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology officially withdrew their 2019 Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments and declined to advance an alternative policy statement as a replacement. While the withdrawal of the 2019 policy statement was seen as a foregone conclusion (given the far more SEP-restrictive nature of a December 2021 draft policy statement (DPS) circulated by the agencies), moving forward without any guidance was not on anyone’s DOJ policy bingo card for 2022. The slim guidance that this withdrawal announcement does provide, however, paints a murky picture for the ability of SEP holders to obtain injunctive relief.

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.

‘I Shall Be Released’: A Favorite Song Among SEP Implementers

As we have previously explained, many implementers wish to require patent owners to establish (1) the need for licenses, and (2) that any terms offered are in fact fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND), but without having to make any commitment to accepting FRAND licenses, and without ever losing entitlement to the same. With respect to the latter, recall, for example, Apple’s position it its case with PanOptis, namely that PanOptis had “no legal right under U.S. law to impose on Apple an obligation to negotiate a license to Plaintiffs’ portfolios of declared-essential patents or forfeit any defenses for failing to do so” (Apple Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss Count VIII for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Optis Wireless Technology, LLC, Optis Cellular Technology, LLC, Unwired Planet, LLC, Unwired Planet International Limited, and PanOptis Patent Management, LLC v. Apple Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00066-JRG (E.D. Texas, June 22, 2020)) [hereinafter Optis v. Apple]. Basically, such implementers want the option of capping their exposure at FRAND rates if ever found to infringe. We refer to this as an implementer wanting to have its FRAND cake and eat it too.

Catapulting BlackBerry: A Data-Intensive Look, Part II

Measuring the quality of a patent portfolio doesn’t have to be subjective. There are a number of objective indices that measure patent families’ potential economic and reputational value, the breadth of patent claims and the statistical validity strength of a patent. The Patent Value Index, or PVIX, measures the potential economic and reputational value of a patent. PVIX scores each patent family on a curve from 0-100 using a weighted average of the GDP of the countries in which the family has granted members and the number of forward citations garnered by the family members compared to peer patent families in the same technology classes.

Scholars Warn EU Commission Not to Upend Delicate SEP Balance

Four scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) have sent comments to the European Commission urging against any changes to the EU’s legal framework for licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs) that would limit SEP holders’ ability to seek injunctions against alleged infringers. The ICLE scholars write: “It is simply not helpful for a regulatory body to impose a particular vision of licensing negotiations if the goal is more innovation and greater ultimate returns to consumers.” The comments come in response to the Commission’s February 2022 Call for evidence, which explained that “some users have found that the system for licensing SEPs is not transparent, predictable or efficient. This initiative seeks to create a fair and balanced licensing framework and may combine legislative and non-legislative action.” The feedback period ended May 9 and asked stakeholders to submit their views on: “(i) transparency; (ii) the concept of licensing on FRAND terms and conditions, including the level of licensing; and (iii) effective enforcement.”

Marketing With the Stars of March: NCAA Athletes and the New ‘NIL’ Policy

Name, Image, and Likeness, or “NIL,” is the buzz word spinning around college athletics. In July 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopted its Interim NIL Policy (“the Policy”) which allows, for the first time, student athletes to monetize their NIL rights without losing scholarships or eligibility. Fans love college sports and cheering on athletes who play for their alma mater or favorite school teams, which creates collaboration opportunities for athletes and brands alike. In an attempt to connect their products and services with college athletes—who are the face of a billion-dollar industry—brands are jumping on the college-athlete bandwagon.

Conservatives Urge HHS to Deny Turning Bayh-Dole March-In Provision into Price Controls

Thirty-one signatories from 29 center-right public policy organizations have written U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging him to deny a petition from Knowledge Ecology International that requests use of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act against the prostate cancer medicine, Xtandi. The conservative organizations represented on the letter include some of the most prominent center-right groups, such as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, FreedomWorks Foundation and Heritage Action for America. Conservatives for Property Rights led the letter initiative.

End of a Patent Battle, Beginning of a Licensing Fight For CRISPR

By now, news of MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute’s victory over the CVC group (the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Vienna, and Emmanuelle Charpentier) in a dispute over genome-editing CRISPR technology has spread like wildfire in the biotech industry and academia. To recap, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that the Broad Institute (Broad) was the first to invent single-guide CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology for use in eukaryotes. Furthermore, the judges ruled that “CVC fails to provide sufficient, persuasive evidence of an earlier reduction to practice or conception, as they are legally defined, of each and every element of Count 1 before Broad’s evidence of reduction to practice.” While the decade-long patent battle over the Nobel Prize-winning technology might have come to an end with Broad breathing a sigh of relief and CVC contemplating whether to take it to the next level, this has left some biotech companies scrambling to renegotiate their licensing agreements.

Fifth Circuit Says Auto Parts Suppliers Have No Article III Standing to Bring Antitrust Claims Against SEP Holders

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Monday vacated and remanded a district court decision that had dismissed Continental Automotive Systems, Inc.’s suit against several standard-essential patent holders and their licensing agent, claiming violations of federal antitrust law and state law. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed with prejudice Continental’s Sherman Act claims for lack of antitrust standing and, alternatively, for failure to plausibly plead certain elements. Continental appealed, but the Fifth Circuit said Continental’s claims should have been dismissed for lack of Article III standing because it had not proven that the SEP holders had “denied Continental property to which it was entitled and that Continental thereby suffered a cognizable injury in fact.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Attempt to Unseal Uniloc Licenses Falls Flat at CAFC

In its second appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) regarding the sealing of documents in several related cases against Apple, Uniloc scored a win when the CAFC said today that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California failed to comply with its original remand instructions, constituting an abuse of discretion. The appellate court for a second time ordered the district court “to make particularized determinations as to whether the third-party licensing information sought to be sealed should be made public.”

Qualcomm SCOTUS Brief Charges Apple Has No Legal Leg to Stand On

On January 19, Qualcomm filed a brief in opposition to Apple’s petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Apple failed to make the requisite evidentiary showing to obtain Article III standing. In 2017, Qualcomm filed suit against Apple, alleging Apple’s mobile devices infringed five of its patents, two of which are at issue here, U.S. Patent No. 7,844,037 (the ‘037 patent) and U.S. Patent No. 8,683,362 (the ‘362 patent). Apple counterclaimed, urging the court to invalidate those five patents. Additionally, Apple filed a simultaneous challenge to two of the patents through inter partes reviews (IPRs).

Knowledge Ecology International’s New March-In Petition is Déjà vu All Over Again – With One Twist

Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. That would appear to be the case with the recent refiling of a petition by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asking it to march in under the Bayh-Dole Act to force licensing to additional parties of the prostate cancer drug Xtandi, because of its cost. The law allows academic institutions, companies and federal laboratories to own and license inventions made with government support. Similar petitions were rejected by NIH and the Department of Defense (which funded the research on the underlying invention) in the Obama/Biden Administration for a simple reason: the law is for the commercialization of federally funded inventions; it does not allow the government to set prices for successful products.

Property Rights Groups Urge Garland and Kanter to Withdraw ‘Misguided’ Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to FRAND

On January 12, a coalition of 28 property rights groups signed a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter asking those officials to reconsider and withdraw a draft policy statement issued in early December regarding licensing negotiations and remedies for standard-essential patents (SEPs) subject to voluntary fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) commitments. According to the coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) statement will only serve to bolster the fortunes of China, the major economic rival to the United States, by allowing Chinese tech implementers to infringe SEPs without respect to the rights of U.S. innovators.

One is the Loneliest Number: Analyzing the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part II)

In Part I of this series of articles, we provided an overview of the 2013 and 2019 policy statements that preceded the 2021 Draft Policy Statement. In this Part II, we consider the language of a specific licensing commitment made to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and various legal pronouncements that have been made in relation thereto.