EU Antitrust Ruling Says Google Abusing Patent Position in German Lawsuit Against Apple

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 6, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The New York Times reports that Google and its Motorola Mobility unit have been found to be abusing their patent dominance in 3G wireless networking technology by the European Commission. The ruling, which comes in the form of a preliminary finding that could lead to formal antitrust charges but has yet to do so, addresses Motorola's efforts to bar European sales of Apple's 3G mobile devices over infringement of "standards essential" patents that Motorola is required to license under reasonable terms.

    Apple did briefly pull a number of devices from its German online store in February 2012, but they quickly returned after an injunction was lifted and Apple later won long-term protection from sales bans while its appeal in the case is heard.

    The European Commission's report today calls Motorola's efforts to enforce a sales ban based on these standards essential patents "an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by E.U. antitrust rules."
    Apple has of course also targeted its competitors with lawsuits seeking sales bans over patent infringement, but Apple's efforts do not involve standards essential patents that are required to be licensed.

    The technology covered by these standards essential patents has been judged to be integral for any device supporting a given functionality, with rights holders being required to license the patents under fair and reasonable terms in order to promote competition. In this case, Apple and Google/Motorola differ on what the reasonable licensing rates should be and thus do not have a licensing agreement in place.

    Article Link: EU Antitrust Ruling Says Google Abusing Patent Position in German Lawsuit Against Apple
  2. elvetio macrumors member

    May 29, 2012
  3. sadesh macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2008
    Another slap in the face of Google. If they thought purchasing patents via Motorola was a good idea to bolster their patent portfolio then they are sorely mistaken. Motorola patents are worth jack ****.

    Google is such a hypocritical company. On the one hand they talk to the press about openness and how they want peace with Apple. On the other hand they try to enforce FRAND patents against other companies.
  4. JarJarThomas macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2013
    interesting and all the apple haters said apple is the bad guy in patent processes
  5. bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    YOU don't care anymore because Apple is winning? Interesting.
  6. mbarriault macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2008
    It's not so much a disagreement, if I recall correctly, but that Motorola was demanding a higher rate from Apple than they were everyone else. Which puts the blame squarely in their court.
  7. Corrode macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2008
    Calgary, AB
    Not everyone sits around cheering on the Apple vs. Google patent battle. Some of us just want a new iPhone or iPad or Mac. Crazy, I know.
  8. antonis macrumors 68000


    Jun 10, 2011
    I should have become a lawyer. It seems they never get without work...
    Then, again, it's so boring...
  9. M1chbeck macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2011
    i would say a "rubber-banding animation" is a pretty standard or essential patent that should not require any license.
  10. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Actually - Motorola has THOUSDANDS of patents. A lot have never been used. But they own them. A lot of cool things too that have never been on a phone. A lot of crap ones too. They didn't just get a handful of patents they need/want to litigate on. They have an endless (almost) repository of potential. So yes - it was a great acquisition for them.

    If I recall correctly - they were arguing that they wanted a flat percentage and that Apple rejected that because their phones cost more than many other phones using the same patents. I could be wrong.
  11. needfx macrumors 68040


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
    Who trusted Google in the first place anyway?
  12. Millah macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2008
    Oh yea? So in other words, rubber banding eye candy is NECESSARY to the function of scrolling? Funny, seems they never had a problem of implementing scrolling in their products before the iPhone showed up. And Android seems to be doing just fine right now without that rubber banding animation.
  13. dennno macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    These lawsuits are getting kinda annoying. They really should just have a page dedicated to lawsuits.
  14. iBug2 macrumors 68040

    Jun 12, 2005
    This is a joke post right?
  15. Saladinos macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    Everybody saying "nobody cares" is too ignorant to understand the issues here, I'm afraid to say.

    This is a fundamental ruling. It is crucial to the development of technology across the entire freaking industry. It's impossible to overstate the importance of this ruling.

    If all companies were allowed to act like Motorola has been acting with its essential patents, there would be no industry standards in the future. It would be impossible for anybody to implement them.

    Industry standards like 802.11 WiFi, h.264 MP4 video, all telecommunications protocols (GSM, UMTS 3G, LTE, CDMA, whatever) and many, many, many more depend on the system that Motorola was trying to litigate around. If they had been allowed to continue, it's probable that none of those technologies would be usable anymore by any company and that improved technologies would never exist.

    Samsung have been following basically the same strategy. They are allowed to bring these kinds of actions in Court - it's their right to do so. However, the courts will rule against them every single time. And they have.

    There is only one case where a patent essential to one of these standards has led to an injunction (Motorola got one against Apple in Germany), but only due to a technicality that Apple fixed the same day (and got the injunction lifted).

    This EU antitrust thing basically says that that one case was a bit of a legal bug, and that things like that shouldn't happen again. Too right!
  16. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Someone always posts this, but I've never been able to find anything that definitively supports it. No one on here will be able to produce the details of other agreements on the same set of patents. It's more than cash transfer too. If there is a cross licensing agreement between the two companies, that could affect the rate.
  17. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Does a phone work without it? Yes, it does.

    "Standard" means an established standard that a product must match. For example, phones must be built to match the technology that the network providers use, otherwise your phone may be working, but not in the network that everyone uses. "Standard essential" means that you can't build a phone that works in some network without using that patent. The rubber banding, just like Samsung's recent patent for turning pages in eBooks, is something that products don't need to work.


    They most certainly don't meet the definition of a patent troll. A patent troll wants money for use of a patent (or more often than not, wants money in order to stop suing you, because being sued is expensive, even if you win in the end). Google on the other hand wants to restrict competition.
  18. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

    Aug 11, 2010
    Instead of punishing people for working the system, why don't they fix the system?
  19. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    An iPhone (or really any modern phone today) is a combination of many, many products into one. An iPhone is a telephone, a music player, video player, ebook reader, GPS, satnav, camera, video camera, and we could probably add a dozen more things.

    Now if I build a camera, and use someone's patent, I might expect to pay X% of the camera price to use the patent. But you wouldn't expect a "phone" that is 20 different products to pay X% of the phone price for a camera patent, plus X% for a video camera patent, plus X% for a GPS patent, plus X% for an ebook reader patent, and so on, for 20X% of the total price.
  20. pirg macrumors 6502a


    Apr 18, 2013
    Oh ok so then how come people call apple a patent troll. By your definition they're not either.
  21. subsonix macrumors 68040

    Feb 2, 2008
    I don't know, ignorance?
  22. pirg macrumors 6502a


    Apr 18, 2013
    Yeah, listen I wasn't saying you said that, I've just never heard anyone define it that way. My understanding of patent troll was just a company that uses patents against another company in lawsuits.

    I gleaned that definition from everyone calling apple a patent troll for defending their IP. Hence, me saying google is a patent troll too.

    But if your definition is the correct one, then neither company is a patent troll although google (Motorola) is definitely trying to restrict competition as gnasher stated.

    I guess patent troll is as meaningless as innovation because no one knows the meaning of that word either!
  23. subsonix macrumors 68040

    Feb 2, 2008
    Then everyone who owns a patent would be a troll for trying to enforce it in the eventuality that someone infringes. Which is absurd because then the term loses it's meaning.

    I don't know if there is an exact definition, but in my book it's someone who abuses a patent. And companies who does nothing else is like ambulance chasers, and deserve to be called a troll the most imo.
  24. pirg macrumors 6502a


    Apr 18, 2013
    Yeah you're right. Again, I was just confused from the title being applied to apple.

    That definition works for me.
  25. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I believe that today's ruling by the EU AntiTrust Agency is one more piece of evidence that Google/Motorola (and to a lesser extent Samung) have failed in their strategy to use their Standard Essential patent portfolios as a merans of escaping responsibility for their blatant theft of other companies intellectual property.

    This doesn't mean that the cellphone "patent wars" are over. It also doesn't mean that Android, or Samsung, are going to disappear - or even lose significant marketshare going forward. But it does mean that their position vis-a-vis Apple and other smartphone makers is going to become increasingly more tenuous.

    Just last week it was announced that Foxconn had joined more than twenty other Android handset makers in taking a license to use Microsoft's (non-Standard Essential) IP. This means that, rather than being "free", every major Android smartphone maker (except for Samsung) is now paying Microsoft (but not Google) a license fee. Going from 0 to paying ~ $10-20 per handset is going to fundamentally change the economics of Android. Its also going to accelerate the proliferation of forked or even non-Android smartphone Operating Systems. All of which plays into the hands of Apple and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft.

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