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Posts Tagged: "patent wars"

A Poor History of Wright Brothers Concludes they were Patent Trolls

In the first sentence of the entire article, the author falls prey to a misconception often parroted by those with anti-patent viewpoints, namely that patent protection is a “government-granted monopoly.” Yes, the patent is granted by the government, and yes, it offers an inventor the right to exclude others from the market, but a patent provides no promise of a monopoly or any market success whatsoever. More than 90 percent of patents cover technologies that will not be commercialized. If there’s no market, there’s no monopoly. Instead, patents help to create markets by creating an enforceable property right capable of attracting investment and warding off free-riders if in fact a market does ultimately exist… But the Mises Institute’s author even notes that Curtiss continued to design aircraft control methods that wouldn’t infringe on the Wright Brothers’ patent, an unwitting recognition of the fact that patent protection encourages innovators to find ways to invent without infringing on a patent.

Nokia, Apple drag the world back to patent war

Being targeted by PAEs is nothing new for Apple — but in an anti-trust complaint dated December 20, 2016, Apple finally said enough was enough. Pulling no punches, Apple accused the PAEs of “conspiring with Nokia in a scheme to diffuse and abuse [standard essential patents] and, as the PAEs and Nokia fully intended, monetize those false promises by extracting exorbitant non-FRAND royalties in way Nokia could not”. Using PAEs for direct attacks against Apple would be a smart, albeit sneaky, strategy for Nokia. Since PAEs do not themselves sell any products, there would be little risk of a countersuit from Apple – as well as a general lack of commitment to FRAND licensing terms that spell lower royalties.

Myths of the Patent Wars: An “Explosion Of Patent Litigation” Greater Than Any in History?

These deceptive claims are meant to justify and buttress a legislative agenda aimed at immunizing this small coterie of technology giants from the costs of their patent infringing behavior… The estimated 124-plus smartphone patent suits filed between 2009-2012 are less than one-quarter the number of patent suits filed during the first “Telephone Wars” of Alexander Graham Bell’s time. Back then, the American Bell Telephone Company and its successor, AT&T, litigated an astonishing 587 patent cases alone. Even more surprising, given the common belief in a patent litigation “explosion” today, patent and legal records from the golden age of the U.S. Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century show that the patent litigation rate at that time — defined as the number of patent suits filed in a decade divided by the number of patents issued in that decade — reached 3.6 percent.

Do Patents Promote Innovation? The Market is the Final Arbiter

In my opinion the best way to judge the success or failure of the patent system is by looking broadly at the type of competition it enables or disables in the marketplace. And that doesn’t mean focusing solely on patent litigation statistics – of course there are going to be fights when such a high stakes prize as mobile computing is up for grabs and of course firms competing with such different business models are going to come into conflict. But look at what that competition has done for innovation and product advances and for consumer choice and pricing. You need the option of patent protection to provide the necessary freedom of choice in market approach, (whether it is open, proprietary or a blend of both), to enable competition between firms employing different market approaches and the innovation engendered by that competition.. The correct focus for this issue is not the intrinsic merit of the concept of patent protection, but rather what the existence of patents does to promote business model diversity and what that in turn does to promote innovation. This is the important point and at least in my view it seems clear that having patents enables more business model diversity and consequently more innovation than not having them.

The Beginning of the End for the Smart Phone Patent Wars?

First, remember that Steve Jobs once referred to the smartphone patent wars as the patent equivalent of global thermonuclear war. But will this be more like the Cold War or the Apocalypse? The only patent war that I can recall that actually approximated a patent version of the Apocalypse was the battle between Polaroid and Kodak. That saw a $909 million verdict in 1990, and ultimately settled for $925 million about a year later, but required total aggregate attorneys fees in the neighborhood of $550 million. The war lasted 15 years and didn’t achieve the $2.5 to $5 billion that once upon a time was believed possible. This was also at a time when these numbers were real money.

America’s First Patent Thicket: Sewing Machine War of the 1850s

The story of the invention and development of the sewing machine challenges these two assumptions insofar as it is a story of a patent thicket in an extremely old technology, but, more important, it is a story of the successful resolution of this thicket through a private-ordering mechanism. The Sewing Machine War was not brought to an end by new federal laws, lawsuits by public interest organizations, or new regulations at the Patent Office, but rather by the patent owners exercising their rights of use and disposition in their property. In so doing, they created the Sewing Machine Combination, which successfully coordinated their overlapping property claims until its last patent expired in 1877. Moreover, the Sewing Machine War is a salient case study because this mid- nineteenth-century patent thicket also included many related issues that are often intertwined today with concerns about modern patent thickets, such as a non- practicing entity (i.e., a “patent troll”) suing infringers after his demands for royalty payments were rejected, massive litigation between multiple parties and in multiple venues, costly prior art searches, and even a hard-fought priority battle over who was the first inventor of the lockstitch.

The Smart Phone Patent Wars: What the FRAND is Going On?

This all came to a head when, on February 22, 2012, Microsoft Corporation filed a formal competition law complaint against Google with European Union antitrust regulators. Microsoft’s complaint was brought about because Google (i.e., Motorola Mobility) “has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price” and “attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products.” Well isn’t Google’s “maximum per-unit royalty of 2.25% of the net selling price for the relevant end product” in compliance with FRAND!? If you consider that often dozens (and sometimes, hundreds) of patents cover a single device, the answer is a resounding “no.” At 2.25% per patent, it would take only about four dozen patents before the entire selling price would be paid in royalties – an obviously absurd result.

Are the Smartphone Patent Wars Giving Patents a Bad Rap?

So who is the villain in all of these wars responsible for again giving patents a bad rap? Well, the villain in not the ITC, USPTO or any U.S. government agency. Nor it is any country’s protectionist trade regime, or an “irreparably broken” U.S. or global patent system. No, the real villains here may very well be a handful of companies that willingly contributed patented technologies to various SSOs, championing their adoption and encouraging their use in a host of consumer electronics, and now claim (years later) that the very producers they encouraged to implement these standards should be barred from making, using or importing their products into the U.S. market.

Are Patent Wars Good for America?

In short, today’s smartphone patent wars are simply “back to the future” when it comes to how disruptive new industries are developed. Every major technological and industrial breakthrough in U.S. history — from the Industrial Revolution to the birth of the automobile and aircraft industries on up to today’s Internet and mobile communications revolutions — has been accompanied by exactly the same surge in patenting, patent trading, and patent litigation that we see today in the smartphone business. This is how the rights to breakthrough new technologies have always been distributed to those best positioned to commercialize them — to the benefit of the whole nation in terms of new jobs, new medical advances, and new products and services.