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

USPTO Relents A Little On Apple’s ‘mini’

The USPTO has recently given Apple a little breathing space on it’s application for trademark on it’s popular iPad Mini tablet, withdrawing previous refusals with a small caveat:

Applicant should submit a disclaimer in the following standardized format:

No claim is made to the exclusive right to use “MINI” apart from the mark as shown

With many existing products bearing the Mini title including numerous that could be considered direct competitors to Apple’s smaller format tablet the the USPTO has been treading carefully around it. The mandated disclaimer however makes it pretty clear the Cupertino company does not have carte blanche trademark on the descriptive small-size moniker

Sources, Further Reading:

Macrumors.com Coverage

USPTO Office Action Letter