European Mobile Anti-Trust Update

  • Despite potentially resolving their EU antitrust case on fishy search results with formal concessions to the way it present search results, Google are perhaps out of the frying pan and into the fire with the FairSearch group (which counts Microsoft and Nokia amongst others as members) formally accusing of new antitrust violations relating to their Android mobile OS. The fact that manufacturers of ‘droid handsets are forced to include Google applications such as youtube/maps can certainly be compared to the situation in the EU MS antitrust case that took most of last decade. The EU Commission’s eventual decision on the matter may affect opensource software to some extent as Android is given to phone makers for free.
  • Apple is under investigation for possible antitrust abuse rising from it’s dealings with European mobile phone carriers. Apple previously drew EU fire in 2008 when as a result of a formal complaint to the European Commission it lowered the price of iTunes store songs to UK users as they were paying more than customers living elsewhere in the European Union
  • Samsung will have to deal with antitrust ramifications in the EU sometime this year, this time not from being a member of a price fixing cartel but rather from it’s patent-trolling of Apple in the region (which it has subsequently stopped). The European Commission seems to have a very fair and balanced outlook on patent usage, as demonstrated in their press release on the subject which included this statement from the Commission Vice in charge of competition policy:

“Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive.”

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Wyncomm Going Out With A Bang

Apple Patent-Trolled Over 1996 Patent

On Friday Apple Insider posted news that Apple has been sued by a non-practising patent assertion entity Wyncomm LLC for infringing on a 1996 patent covering “side channel communications in simultaneous voice and data transmission”. The title of the article bears reference to it being related to use of Wi-Fi technology. Before taking a look at the patent in question it should be noted Wyncomm is taking action against numerous other companies as well, 6 in total (including Apple) filed on the 11th of April and one on the 12th, all in the Delaware District. Links to court filings:

Docket Text for the Cyberpower and Casio cases notes the same US Patent Number that Apple Insider reported has been deployed against Apple , US Patent No. 5,506,866. Current docket information is not available for other cases at this time but it could be assumed they are probably ‘866 related as well. Continue reading

Rackspace/Red Hat V. Uniloc Summary

From Red Hat’s press release:

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE: RAX) announced today that they have won a federal court decision granting early dismissal of all claims in a lawsuit brought by the patent assertion entity Uniloc USA, Inc.

Before going into the details of the case there are three extremely relevant court decisions to be aware of: Gottschalk v. Benson (1972), Diamond v. Diehr (1981) and In re Alappat (1994). Continue reading

Lodsys Gets Slap-Happy With Lawsuits

According to their website the Marshall, Texas company Lodsys seeks to:

Embrace and empower invention by supporting an Innovative Economy

Apparently they do this by licencing the four patents they own to over 200 companies and launching legal action against those who don’t. As listed by Ars, this year alone they are up to dozens of lawsuits already Continue reading

Interview With A Patent Troll

earlier this week Arstechnica posted an excellent summary and review of the practices of MPHJ Technologies, their associated shell companies and the law companies around the USA that represent them them in their trolling.

In the call, the confused Mr. Smith starts out by telling Rust he can scarcely believe what is happening. “Just to reiterate, my home printer—if I scan to e-mail, it’s an option on my Hewlett-Packard printer—I do that, I owe you money?” asks Smith.

“If you said you hooked it up to the Internet, and in one button, you can scan and e-mail directly out—yes, you have violated the patent that we own,” says Rust.

That means millions of Americans owe Rust’s anonymous client money

Continue reading