Posts Tagged: "Qualcomm"

Restrictive IP Policies Could Limit Innovation Opportunity

In the wake of fraudulent IP applications from foreign nations—namely China—the United States has recently enacted or called for policies that require foreign entities to complete more thorough IP applications. For instance, in August, we heard about the new USPTO rule requiring all foreign trademark applicants and registrants to be represented by a licensed U.S. attorney when filing. According to the USPTO website, this is intended to “increase USPTO customer compliance with U.S. trademark law and USPTO regulations, improve the accuracy of trademark submissions to the USPTO and safeguard the integrity of the U.S. trademark register.” And then just last week, news broke that the USPTO had issued new instructions requiring trademark examiners to ask applicants for proof of legal residence in the United States to enforce this new rule (note: these instructions have since been rolled back). The reasoning behind these legislations, or proposed legislations, seems to be that by making the IP application process more involved and more challenging, the USPTO will limit the number of foreign IP applications received—and therefore the number of fraudulent applications received. This will undoubtedly work, but is it the right approach?

‘Not Just Another G’: Apple’s Intel Purchase Underscores the Sprint to 5G

Earlier this summer, Intel announced that some 8,500 patent assets (i.e., issued patents and pending patent applications) would be auctioned. Approximately 6,000 assets related to 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular standards, while 1,700 assets relate to wireless implementation of cellular standards. According to initial reports from IAM, Intel was hoping to sell these patents separately from the smartphone modem business, although they were open to the possibility that a prospective buyer might seek to acquire both the patent assets and Intel’s smartphone modem business. Shortly after the Intel patent assets were announced as available for sale, Intel abruptly took the assets off the market in favor of negotiating with a single interested suitor. Very quickly, news broke that the negotiations with that unidentified suitor were quite advanced, suggesting that the Intel auction announcement was nothing more than a negotiating ploy to get the unidentified suitor back to the table and for the suitor to realize that they could lose the patent assets if they did not play their hand correctly and misidentified the leverage involved in the negotiation. It has recently come to light that the unidentified suitor for the Intel patent assets was none other than Apple, just as IAM has predicted in its initial reporting. So, now we know that Apple will buy the majority of Intel’s modem business, including the patent assets, for $1 billion. 

Ninth Circuit Told They Should Stay Judge Koh’s Qualcomm Injunction

On July 15, retired Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel filed an amicus brief in Qualcomm’s appeal of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The following day, the United States government filed a statement of interest with the appellate court as well. Both parties filed in support of Qualcomm’s request for a partial stay of an injunction handed down this May in the Northern District of California, which requires Qualcomm to license its standard essential patents (SEPs) to modem-chip suppliers after determining that the company’s “no license, no chips” policy violated U.S. antitrust law.

Last Week at the PTAB: Three Intel Petitions Instituted on Qualcomm Patent, Major Tech Firms Join Google IPR

Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued 39 decisions regarding petitions for inter partes review (IPR) patent validity proceedings, instituting 26. Eight of those proceedings involve major tech firms Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and LG Electronics, all of which won on motions to join previous Google IPRs filed to challenge a pair of Cywee Group patents. Qualcomm also faces a trio of IPRs brought by Intel to challenge the validity of a patent involved in the now-settled legal battle with Apple.

A Look at Five Cases at the International Trade Commission: Apple v. Qualcomm, Jurisdiction Issues, and Overlap with the FDA

Case filings at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), a popular venue for resolving intellectual property disputes, reached record levels in 2018, and 2019 appears likely to be another busy year. In fact, there have already been a number of important decisions, including one in Qualcomm’s high-profile battle with Apple relating to the public interest, one making it clear that the ITC has jurisdiction over those only indirectly involved in infringement, and an opinion addressing the overlap between the ITC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as  the ITC’s ability to police misleading advertising and labeling of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and dietary supplements.

The FTC’s Qualcomm Case Reveals Concerning Divide with DOJ on Patent Hold-Up

On May 2, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) took the unusual step of submitting a Statement of Interest in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) case against Qualcomm to take a position contrary to the FTC. The DOJ argued that “[b]ecause an overly broad remedy could result in reduced innovation, with the potential to harm American consumers, this Court should hold a hearing and order additional briefing to determine a proper remedy that protects competition while working minimal harm to public and private interests.” In response, the FTC informed the court that it “did not participate in or request” the DOJ’s filing, that it “disagree[d] with a number of contentions” made by the DOJ, and that the DOJ “misconstrues applicable law and the record.” In the end, the court agreed with the FTC and issued injunctive relief against Qualcomm without conducting the further remedy proceedings the DOJ advocated. The public feuding between the two federal antitrust enforcement agencies about how to resolve a case litigated by one them was a remarkable spectacle. It also brought into focus a broader divide between the FTC and DOJ on the role of antitrust law in addressing patents that are essential to industry standards (SEPs) and subject to commitments to license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Long Overdue Victory for the FTC Restores Balance to Standard Essential Patents

In a June 4 op-ed to IPWatchDog, James Edwards launched a scathing attack against Judge Koh and her 233-page ruling, which found Qualcomm to have engaged in anticompetitive behavior against competitors within the cellular chipset market. However, just as Mr. Edwards claims Judge Koh failed in her undertaking, so too has Mr. Edwards by ignoring the context and facts of the case. His argument against Judge Koh, deliberately or otherwise, does not mention the fact that this case involved the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs) subject to the FRAND commitment, a contract between the patent holder and the standard setting organization to license the relevant patents on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms. Indeed, Mr. Edwards makes no mention of standard essential patents in a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the facts and fit a narrative that intellectual property rights writ large are under attack by this decision.

Last Week at the PTAB: Intel Challenges Qualcomm, Apple Joins HTC, and Mixed Results for ResMed

Last week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), 23 institution decisions were issued based on petitions to challenge the validity of patents via inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. Only four petitions were denied institution last week, while four petitions that were instituted were joined to other IPR proceedings already ongoing at the PTAB. Qualcomm faced two institution decisions, adding to the legal troubles the company has faced in recent years in enforcing its intellectual property. Apple secured three successful decisions to institute, including two IPRs that are joined to other proceedings brought by HTC Corporation. Visa, Netflix and Guest Tek Interactive Entertainment also saw successes with their IPR petitions, while ResMed had two petitions instituted and two denied by the PTAB. 

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.

Of Supply Chains and Fireworks: A Trade War with China is Easy to Lose

Over the course of two weeks, the United States has imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods and has blacklisted Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications company, on national security grounds. Google, Intel, Qualcomm and Micron have announced that they will stop doing business with the company. The United States has even threatened to withhold intelligence from our key allies if they go forward with plans to use Huawei equipment. Although there are many issues driving this newly escalated trade war between the United States and China, chief among them is the concern that China and its companies are engaged in intellectual property theft. Say what? Upend global markets over infringement of private technology rights? This must be pretty serious. Let’s take a closer look.

Judge Koh Delivers Qualcomm Brutal Defeat Despite Apple’s Proven Manipulation

In a 233-page Order issued yesterday, Judge Lucy Koh of the United States Federal District Court for the Northern District of California handed Qualcomm a stinging defeat in the case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that Qualcomm engaged in unlawful licensing practices. It was just three weeks ago that Apple and Qualcomm entered into a peace treaty. The revelations about Apple’s coordinated efforts to manipulate the licensing market by shrewdly challenging inferior patents to beat down prices should have led to the FTC dropping its pursuit of Qualcomm. It is no secret that Apple has urged regulators all over the world to chase Qualcomm for alleged anticompetitive licensing practices, but it has now come out in federal court proceedings that Apple just didn’t like the rate it agreed to pay Qualcomm and decided to manipulate the marketplace and then use that manipulation to pull the wool over the eyes of regulators, including the FTC, in an attempt to leverage a better deal with Qualcomm.Apple succeeded in achieving peace with Qualcomm, although the company has been badly beaten by Apple in near collusion with regulators all over the world. So why would the FTC continue to persecute Qualcomm given the revelations in the Apple/Qualcomm litigation that demonstrate that Qualcomm did not seek an unreasonably high licensing rate?

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, May 17: Trump Bans Huawei, Alibaba Shows Improved Brand Protection and China Revises Copyright Law

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Chinese state political advisors suggest changes to the country’s copyright law, including stronger punitive measures for infringement; President Donald Trump bans Huawei telecommunications equipment from use on U.S. networks; Korean IP offices get ready to study inter-Korean IP cooperation; Huawei and Samsung reach a conclusion to their worldwide patent litigation; AbbVie okays a generic Humira treatment in 2023; Disney escapes Pirates of the Caribbean copyright suit unscathed; Guns N’ Roses files a trademark suit over a beer; Qualcomm enters into another worldwide patent license for 5G technology; and Procter & Gamble unveils its largest research and development center after $400 million upgrade to Ohio facility.

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.

First House IP Subcommittee Hearing of 116th Congress Addresses Ways to Increase Female Inventorship

Today, April 3, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held a hearing titled Trailblazers and Lost Einsteins: Women Inventors and the Future of American Innovation—a topic that also was considered last Wednesday by the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet in their first hearing of the term. The House hearing was titled, Lost Einsteins: Lack of Diversity in Patent Inventorship and the Impact on America’s Innovation Economy and, like today’s Senate hearing, focused on a recent report on female inventorship released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and featured testimony on how to improve rates of female inventorship from a collection of women in fields having strong ties to the U.S. patent system. Susie Armstrong, Senior Vice President of Engineering for Qualcomm, Inc., said that, for companies like hers that were trying to take the lead in 5G mobile networks and other areas of innovation, more great tech minds from underrepresented communities were needed. An inventor herself who helped create single packet data communications that allowed cell phones to access the Internet for the first time, Armstrong said that Qualcomm had produced educational initiatives like the Thinkabit Lab, which partners with school districts and libraries to encourage students to innovate in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector.

Latest Apple/Qualcomm Ruling Highlights Question of ‘Unwilling Licensees’

On March 20, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the Southern District of California issued an order denying a motion by Apple, which was seeking partial judgment against Qualcomm on that company’s claim that it had fulfilled its fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations for licensing its standard-essential patents (SEPs). As a result, Qualcomm can move ahead with its efforts to prove that its SEP portfolio licensing activities have met the company’s FRAND obligations and that Apple has forfeited its right to FRAND licensing because it hasn’t been a willing licensee.The court sided with Qualcomm in finding that Apple’s arguments regarding the unsuccessful licensing negotiations presented a definite and concrete controversy. Qualcomm had cited to a 2017 Eastern District of Texas case, Huawei Techs. Co. v. T-Mobile US, Inc., to show an instance where a court had found subject-matter jurisdiction in a case where a patent holder sought a declaration that it had complied with FRAND obligations. In the current case, Apple hadn’t stated unequivocally that it wouldn’t pursue a stand-alone breach of contract action, giving rise to a substantial controversy with sufficient immediacy and reality to justify declaratory relief. A favorable outcome to Qualcomm on this claim would afford additional relief, as Qualcomm could demonstrate that Apple had engaged in unreasonable holdout behavior, relieving Qualcomm of further FRAND obligations towards Apple.