Feeds

US mulls outlawing rival product bans using standards patents

Congress probes essential designs used to win injunctions

High performance access to file storage

The US Congress is holding a hearing today to consider whether companies that own standards-essential patents (SEP) should be allowed to use them to get sales and import bans on their rivals' products.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting to hear from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice on whether firms can wield SEP over their rivals in patent battles, an issue which could have a big impact on firms like Samsung and Motorola Mobility.

Firms like Microsoft and Apple have been whinging to lawmakers about the use of SEP in patent litigation, as Microsoft faces a ban on its Xbox 360 from an essential patent for video brought by Motorola Mobility and Apple's many lawsuits face counter suits over SEP from the likes of Samsung.

The committee will be hearing about the antitrust implications of granting sales bans based on SEP and its witness list includes FTC commissioner Edith Ramirez and acting assistant AG of the DoJ Joseph Wayland.

The FTC has already made its position clear by filing the case of Motorola v Microsoft with the International Trade Commission, which has the power to impose the bans, while urging the ITC not to issue an injunction.

The FTC said it was concerned that companies were trying to use the threat of a sales ban to force others who wanted to use the standard to pay higher royalty fees. That would of course be directly against the point of SEP, which is supposed to be licensed on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) basis so that everyone's kit can be interoperable and on the same standard.

"Incorporating patented technologies into standards has the potential to distort competition by enabling SEP owners to negotiate high royalty rates and other favourable terms, after a standard is adopted, that they could not credibly demand beforehand," the FTC said in its filing.

Meanwhile, the UN's telecommunications arm, the ITU, is holding a roundtable on the issue in October.

SEP owners like Motorola have argued that the bans are a necessary threat for firms that refuse to pay licensing fees.

If rules against using SEP to get sales bans were introduced, it could have a big impact on the Apple v Android manufacturer cases, as many of these are from the old guard of mobile firms and rely on SEP to fight back.

However, even if bans aren't allowed, SEP owners could still use legal means to prove infringement, which could win them damages and/or force the infringing firm to pay royalties. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.