Mark Bridge writes:
I’m not the first person to point out that mobile phone patent battles are raging all around us. They’ve been going on for years.
However, the topic of FRAND patents - those designated as ‘industry standards’ and therefore required to be licensed on Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms - has become an increasingly newsworthy topic.
In the last couple of weeks we’ve reported on an EC investigation into Samsung’s licensing of mobile patents and a Motorola/Apple legal battle that involves FRAND licensing.
More recently, intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller has looked into the perspectives of a number of leading mobile companies and has published details of their statements.
He notes that Apple believes a commitment to FRAND licensing should rule out the possibility of court injunctions; something that Google and Motorola haven’t done. Cisco has supported Apple’s statements, while Microsoft shares a similar anti-injunction perspective. Encouraging news overall, I think.
Those various commitments may soon be put to the test. The EC’s vice president of Competition Policy, Joaquín Almunia, said on Friday that he would make sure companies with essential patents gave ‘”effective access” on FRAND terms. He wants new ‘antitrust’ rules to be in place by the end of next year - and with law-breaking companies already able to be fined 10% of their turnover, those rules are likely to be tough.
At the moment we appear to be in the middle of many patent battles. It’s difficult to see how all those battles will end... but it seems the end of the patent wars - at least in Europe - could well be in sight.