Feeds

US Supremes limit royalty double dippage

That's like putting your whole mouth right in the patent!

The essential guide to IT transformation

The US Supreme court has overturned a lower court ruling that let South Korea's LG Electronics double-dip on royalty licensing.

In a unanimous decision today, the court favored Taiwan's Quanta Computers, delivering a ruling that will limit a patent holder's ability to collect royalties from companies at different stages of the production process.

The case reverses a previous Federal appeals circuit decision on patent exhaustion. The high court agreed to review the licensing dispute last September at the urging of the Bush administration.

LG had licensed a set of patents to Intel for use in its chips and chipsets, but the agreement specifically barred Intel from mixing the technology with components from other manufacturers.

Intel then sold the chipsets to PC manufacturers such as Quanta — which in turn used the chipsets to make computers for vendors such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

LG sued Quanta in 2000, accusing the manufacturer of infringing three patents because computers with the Intel chipsets also had kit from other companies.

A US District Court in California ruled in Quanta's favor, but an appellate court overturned the decision. The Bush administration then urged the Supremes to take the case on grounds the ruling went too far in letting patent holders extract royalties from down-stream companies.

The high court ruling today said LG couldn't extract royalties from Quanta because the initial sale to Intel had "exhausted" LG's ability to control how the technology was used.

"Nothing in the License Agreement limited Intel's ability to sell its products practicing the LGE Patents," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for the court. "Intel's authorized sale to Quanta thus took its products outside the scope of the patent monopoly, and as a result, LGE can no longer assert its patent rights against Quanta."

However, the court did say Quanta's sale to computer vendors would not have been authorized if Intel had originally breached the contract with LG. So, although the ruling will limit downstream royalty collection, companies better hope everyone upstream read the fine print very carefully.

A copy of the ruling? That would be right over here. (PDF warning) ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.