FTC Cautions Against Bans When Essential Patents Involved
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed an amicus brief that outlines its position on patent cases and product bans. The FTC believes that products should not be blocked from sale in the U.S. when standard essential patents are concerned. Standard essential patents are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (or FRAND) terms. The FTC, however, thinks that standard essential patent holders can "use the threat of injunctions to distort competition by insisting on high royalties and other favorable licensing terms that they could not have credibly demanded before the standard was set." This can lead to what the FTC calls "patent hold-up," which is what happens when a company is faced with either delaying a product to get around a patent or submitting to the higher licensing terms of patent holder. The end result of all this legal maneuvering could lead to higher prices for consumers, which the FTC wants to avoid. Moving forward, the FTC believes monetary damages are the only proper remedy for standard essential patent cases, and product injunctions — or bans — should not be used. Many smartphone patent holders have filed petitions with the FTC seeking bans of competitors' products for just these reasons. The amicus brief was filed pertaining to a patent lawsuit between Motorola and Apple that was summarily dismissed by a judge earlier this year. Apple accused Motorola of abusing its FRAND obligations with respect to its standard essential patents.
FTC Accuses Qualcomm of Anticompetitive Behavior
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed a complaint against Qualcomm, alleging the chip-maker uses its market position to monopolize the sale of cell phone baseband processors.
Microsoft Accuses InterDigital of Antitrust Behavior
Microsoft has filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, a patent-licensing firm, for charging exorbitant rates to license standard-essential patents. The two companies have been embroiled in patent litigation for years.
BlackBerry Sues Nokia Over Patents
BlackBerry filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nokia this week. BlackBerry claims Nokia is using its patented technology in select telecommunications equipment that Nokia sells to network operators, such as T-Mobile, without the proper licenses.
Intel, Samsung Pile On Qualcomm By Supporting FTC Lawsuit
Intel and Samsung support the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation against Qualcomm and have filed amicus briefs to air their own complaints. The FTC hit Qualcomm with legal action in January and suggested that the company's patent licensing practices may violate monopoly regulations.