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Patents The Courts Apple

Apple and Samsung Agree To Settlement Talks 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the agree-to-pretend-to-talk dept.
tlhIngan writes "It looks like the Apple v. Samsung war might be over soon. Both parties have agreed to meet to attempt to reach a settlement. While they are not required to settle (Google and Oracle recently went through the same process), it could be a positive signal that Apple might be willing to license the patents under Tim Cook, versus fight it out in court under the late Steve Jobs."
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Apple and Samsung Agree To Settlement Talks

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  • The dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by barista (587936) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:08AM (#39722445) Homepage
    Return of the King aside, the dead usually don't put up much of a fight.
    • Re:The dead (Score:5, Funny)

      by TWX (665546) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:09AM (#39722453)
      I donno, I can think of numerous films that have otherwise. Especially films starring Bruce Campbell...
    • Re:The dead (Score:4, Funny)

      by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:38AM (#39722769)

      You would think so, but even if your enemy dies, their IP will remain to haunt you for centuries.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      the dead usually don't put up much of a fight.

      Steve was a GOD. He *will* be back to fight. These people will not know what hit them. This is blashphemy. I'm telling mom..

      • Yes he was, and he would have fought. But Apple shareholders didnt seem to have the same enthusiasm for him using 'every last penny' to fight Android. With his leadership personality and winning track record the shareholders probably stayed quiet, but with Steve gone I doubt the shareholders will sit by and watch their money and resources being spent on a vendetta. A settlement is the right move, everyone wins. Except the money grubbing lawyers of course.
  • by sosume (680416) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:17AM (#39722537) Journal

    I still cannot understand why very technical inventions (such as 3G and GSM) can only be licensed under FRAND conditions, but fluff like 'slide to unlock' (have that in my toilet) or rounded corner ("they are everywhere!") yield massive license income.. I would really love to see this before a judge so we can finally get this mess cleaned up for good.

    • Well, patents are granted on the basis that the inventor discloses his idea and profits for a while, to the greater good of society as the knowledge base is extended. So FRAND is a corollary of that. On the other hand, slide to unlock and particular shades of round corners are non-functional decoration (because there are many other equally good ways to unlock or to shape a corner) and so offer no benefit to society. In our society, non-functional frizz, whether it is the shape of a corner or the wail of a "
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Patents are granted to provide incentive to promote scientific progress for the country as a whole. As a side note, the inventor gets exclusive access to their patent for a small period of time so they have a leg up on the competition.

        The PRIMARY goal of patents is to OPEN UP IDEAS TO THE PUBLIC, not sequester them for eons and rake in massive profits.
        The same goes for Copyright. The primary goal of copyright is to get content into the public domain, period. Profit and racketeering are what businesses a

        • I thought the original idea behind patents was to stop the big guy from crushing the little guy by the little guy to bring something to market. Somewhere along the line this got changed to the big guy patenting everything they can to stop other guys (both big and small) from doing anything remotely similar.

      • In our society, non-functional frizz, whether it is the shape of a corner or the wail of a "singer", is given a very high value because the country is run by arts graduates rather than scientists and engineers.

        So ... it's the art school graduates, is it?

        You think they're conspiring with the members of the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group to achieve world dominance, or do they just want to take over the White House and re-decorate it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Desler (1608317)

      Because that's he agreement you make by having your patents included in a standard?

    • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:33AM (#39722715)

      3G, GSM, etc. are not technical inventions.

      They are standards.

      When a standards body agrees to take a patent as part of the standard, they generally require FRAND licensing as part of that agreement.

      Nowhere anywhere does something *have* to be FRAND, but if you want it in a standard you're going to be going down that road.

    • by Brannon (221550) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:36AM (#39722745)

      Nobody forced anybody to license anything under FRAND conditions. The patent holders voluntarily committed them to FRAND licensing in order to get them included within a standard. That's how standards work. By the way, FRAND doesn't mean "free" as you seem to believe, some of those companies make a lot of money off of their FRAND patents. It means that you can't charge Apple more than you charge Toshiba--which is exactly what Motorola was trying to do.

      Also, design patents != standard patents. Nobody is claiming that rounded corners is some kind of technical invention, that isn't the purpose of design patents--they are *by definition* aesthetic. They exist so that a competitor can't make a look-alike replica of your product and then sell it to confused customers--which is exactly what Samsung was trying to do.

      All that said, I think Apple overstates their case sometimes by assuming every feature on another phone which is similar to an iPhone was copied from the iPhone. Sometimes there is a simpler explanation, like two people trying to solve the same problem came up with a similar answer, or the feature actually existed in an earlier product.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        Confused customers?

        What are, fresh off the boat? (Substitute your own expression - fresh off the farm, whatever.)

        If so, what are they doing with a smartphone?

        They don't know they have a Samsung instead of an iPad? Even with it saying "SAMSUNG" on the front?

        Also: Knight-Ridder Tablet.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Confused customers?

          A design patent is effectively a trademark on a physical implementation, except unlike trademarks, they last for a VERY short time (5 years). They differ from trademarks in that you don't have a use ir or lose it, and trademarks are more ethereal - they don't apply to physical objects, but to abstract designs and text (for obvious reasons).

          Given how often consumers ARE confused by similar trademarks (look at how many people try to copy a can of Coke - the color, the way the text is done,

          • by Compaqt (1758360)

            And there aren't any imaginary property remedies other than design patents?

            Anyway, the Samsung is not in the same category as the knockoff "Eyephone" (props to the guy who made it for the corniest knockoff).

            And yeah, it happens to be black with round corners, but so is half the stuff on my desk (the other half is grey with rounded corners).

            And it prominently states SAMSUNG.

            Finally, is the new judicial standard going to the "dumbest smartphone user alive" standard?

        • Like it or not, that's how the world works. You can't make a contour bottle that looks exactly like Coca-Cola's bottle, with a similar color scheme and the name Cola-Cola, and then sell it. Why not? because of design patents.

          • by Compaqt (1758360)

            Wait, I thought it was claimed above that design patents are only for 5 years?

            While agreeing with you on the Coca Cola example (exact same packaging + it says "Coca Cola"), I have a problem when Apple tries to patent black, which has been used for computer gear forever (in computer years).

            Something like Ferrari Red might have been understandable--like the Acer Ferrari laptops.

            • Or rounded corners. No more than Coca Cola corp tried to patent curved glass, or a round top, or the color red. Design patents and trade dress cover the convergence of many aesthetic properties--each one independently wouldn't be unique but when combined in a particular way then they can constitute a design patent infringement. The problem is, in the legal filings, you can't just say "Hey, they made a bottle that looks just like a Coke bottle", you have to say "they combined several elements including a red

              • by Compaqt (1758360)

                >By the way, in my example I didn't say the bottle would be called Coca Cola (that would be a trademark violation regardless of a design patent), I said "Cola Cola", but your brain pattern matched and turned that into "Coca Cola". Isn't it funny how that works?

                Slashdot hive mind at work.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        By the way, FRAND doesn't mean "free" as you seem to believe, some of those companies make a lot of money off of their FRAND patents. It means that you can't charge Apple more than you charge Toshiba--which is exactly what Motorola was trying to do.

        Not only motorola, but others in the same consortium were trying to charge Apple more.

        Why? Because it was a patent POOL, with an organization to track and settle licensing fees between partners. You brought your pertinent patents into the pool, and you paid your license fees per handset. Apple brought no patents to the table. They just usurped the right to use all of these patents, claiming that any fees due were paid by the chip manufacturers. They offered nothing in return for the use of these patents

        • True the patent pool protects everyone but what about those that came into the market after the original standards were agreed upon? Should they have to invent a time machine to get themselves into the pool? Also one of Apple's complaints with Motorola is that they are double-dipping. They charged Qualcomm licensing fees to make the 3G chips then charges Apple who uses the chips another fee. That's like Micron trying to get you or Dell to pay SDRAM licensing to them after you bought DDR modules from Kin
          • by icebike (68054) *

            Apple does hold some patents that they are now using to sue everyone in sight. They could have offered these patents to the patent pool, but instead they chose to offer none, even when some were asked for.

            As for charging the chip makers and then the handset makers, that is standard practice, agreed upon by the entire pool. Its not double dipping, because it was purposely set up that way. Further, some chips have multiple different capabilities, and you only have to license the ones you actually use in yo

            • There is no such thing as 'patent-pool' pricing. There is no difference in the licensing price for companies which contributed to a standards patent-pool vs. companies who didn't. That's not why patent-pools exist and you repeating it over and over doesn't make it anymore true. It is pure fiction.

              Such a difference is specifically impermissable by the "non-discriminatory" requirement of FRAND, that's what the 'ND' stands for. Look it up.

              • by icebike (68054) *

                Why don't you look it up!

                There is no clear definition of FRAND, it differs with each patent pool.

          • by chrb (1083577)
            Your arguments are against the patent system itself.

            True the patent pool protects everyone but what about those that came into the market after the original standards were agreed upon? Should they have to invent a time machine to get themselves into the pool?

            Unfortunately, that is the way that patents work. "What if you became an X developer after X has already been invented?" is a common problem; if someone has a patent, and you create a product that requires that patent, then you must license it. It doesn't matter that you entered the field after the patent was created - it doesn't matter if you weren't born when the patent was created - you will still be at the mercy of the patent holder until the patent ex

            • Separate charges for manufacture and integration are also allowed by the patents system.

              Not unless they charged Qualcomm for everything already. The chips Apple bought are stock chips that everyone else uses.

              Or like Apple suing Samsung and HTC over an operating system that they bought from Google? There is no law that prohibits a patent holder from suing anyone in the distribution chain who they claim violates their patent.

              Not remotely similar. Apple is suing HTC over functional patents that they believe they invented and never licensed to Google. Whether those patents are valid is another question. Apple is suing Samsung for copying their designs. Again the question is whether Apple has a case as they never licensed the designs to Samsung. In the case of Micron, they are a part of the SDRAM patent hol

        • You seem to believe standards work by several companies contributing patents to a pool and then those companies are the only ones who get to build to the standard. That is *not* how they work, and frankly that is a pretty stupid guess as to how they work.

          Companies contribute patents to a pool as a condition of making that technology part of the standard under requirements to FRAND that technology for any and all who want to implement that standard (whether those future companies contributed to the pool or n

          • by icebike (68054) *

            Meanwhile, Motorola (and others) approached Apple and said that they wouldn't accept cash from them anyway as payment for the FRAND technology,

            That's the part you made up out of whole cloth. Moto never said they wouldn't accept cash. In fact they are suing for several billion in cash.

            The patent pool had FRAND pricing and collection mechanisms for two different tiers. One was the members, the other was for non-members. (Apple is not the only non-member, there are several who use various pieces of this technology and pay the non-member pricing for everything from speed cameras to water meters).

            Apple refused to pay the non member pricing. Non-di

            • But what they won't do is accept the same amount of money from Apple that they would from Qualcomm. Do you honestly think that if this was a matter of a couple of bucks per phone (like what they charge everyone else) that Apple wouldn't happily pay? Apple is a $500B corporation.

              No, the stumbling blocks were (a) Apple felt like Qualcomm's license should extend to them, that's for the courts to decide, and (b) Moto wanted Apple's non-FRAND patent portfolio in exchange so they could make Motorola iPhones.

          • by chrb (1083577)

            You seem to believe standards work by several companies contributing patents to a pool and then those companies are the only ones who get to build to the standard. That is *not* how they work

            In fact, that *is* how some standards work. You seem to believe that it is illegal to create a patent pool unless the patents are offered to competitors on FRAND terms. Unfortunately, there is no such law. It is legal for companies to create a private patent pool. Qualcomm do not have to license their CDMA patent pool to you, so that you can create competing CDMA chipsets. The only reason that the GSM patents are considered FRAND is because that is how the GSM Alliance chose to operate (probably due to its

            • by Brannon (221550)

              It doesn't matter if that isn't how all standards work, it is definitely how *the standard we are talking about* works.

              I don't see why it is so hard to set a price. Just look at what other companies paid. Not every licensee traded IP for their license and even when they did, look at the value of that IP. Now look at what they are asking Apple to pay, I think you'll notice that there are a few zeroes attached to the end of the Apple price.

              BTW: Apple owns a huge LTE patent portfolio acquired from Nortel. How

        • that's the whole frickin point. That's what 'non-discriminatory' means.

          Idiot.

          • by icebike (68054) *

            You still have to pay the fees appropriate to your class. You don't get to use the patents for free and contribute neither money or patents to the pool. Its not discriminatory to expect you to pay for the patents you use.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        Nobody forced anybody to license anything under FRAND conditions. The patent holders voluntarily committed them to FRAND licensing in order to get them included within a standard. That's how standards work.

        Which is why I contend that if things continue as they are, with Apple securing exorbitant licensing fees for trivial patents like "slide to unlock" while FRAND patents are limited to small fixed royalties, there is only one logical outcome:

        FRAND and standards are dead. No company/inventor in their r

        • by chrb (1083577)
          They already do require individual license. There is no global license for the GSM "patent pool" - if you want to make a GSM phone, you have to go to each patent holder and license their patents individually. The argument is about this:

          FRAND patents are limited to small fixed royalties

          Well, who said that FRAND patents would be limited to small fixed royalties? In fact, the patent holder is free to license their patents in any way they wish. That just means that they can't charge one person more than another for a patent license (which is impossible to judg

    • What exactly is wrong with that? Standards are meant to be universally adopted and having standard essential patents not be licensed under FRAND terms goes against that. If Samsung didn't want to be tied by FRAND terms then they shouldn't have forced their patents into the standards. Other than anti-Apple screed, I don't see any reason why standard essential patents shouldn't be FRAND. You do realize that making these patents non-FRAND does more than just stick it to Apple, right? For example, there would t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnasher719 (869701)

      I still cannot understand why very technical inventions (such as 3G and GSM) can only be licensed under FRAND conditions, but fluff like 'slide to unlock' (have that in my toilet) or rounded corner ("they are everywhere!") yield massive license income.. I would really love to see this before a judge so we can finally get this mess cleaned up for good.

      Explanation: Some patents are part of a standard, and everybody _must_ use them to use that standard. If one company with patents used in the 3G standard for example refused to license their patents, then they would have a monopoly. If two companies refused to license their patents, then we would have no 3G phones. Therefore, whenever some standard is created, everyone has to agree to license their patents under FRAND conditions. If you refuse, they will change the standard so that your patents are not part

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Rounded corners" on the other hand is not something that is patented, or patentable, and referring to it seems to indicate that you are a bit clueless. You can get a design patent for a design which consists of many, many design elements, and only someone copying that combination of design elements would be infringing. I can get a design patent for a phone that has A, B, C, D and E, and you would then be free to create a phone that has A, C, D and E, but not B.

        Bullshit. Design patents do not rely on a specific enumeration of elements, but on drawings, and the similarity to these drawings need not be absolute. For instance, the iPad design patent ( D504889 [google.com]) being asserted against Samsung shows a square edge between the front face and all sides. And yet, making a tablet contaning all elements of that design except the square edge (replacing it, say, with a small radius) would not keep you safe -- in fact the iPad itself has a small radius here. The test for infringe

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Because the former are standards and the latter are not.

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      Yeah, on the one hand, it seems good that Apple is capitulating. On the other, I would have really liked to have seen Apple get smacked.

      As it is, by licensing "rounded corners" and "the color black", won't Samsung be adding weight to Apple's ridiculous claims, and thereby making it more likely for them to be able to extract dollar$ from other manufacturers?

    • There is a difference between a design patent and a functional one. If you contend that design patents should not exist, then no company could protect their designs. Raye Ban sunglasses , Suny headphones, Koach purses would be everywhere and legal. The legal argument has not been whether Apple had the design patents (they do) . The question has been whether Samsung deliberately copied their design. Using one point of the 24 points in Apple brief says you we not reading the whole thing.
    • I still cannot understand why very technical inventions (such as 3G and GSM) can only be licensed under FRAND conditions, but fluff like 'slide to unlock' (have that in my toilet) or rounded corner ("they are everywhere!") yield massive license income

      Simply put, it's because companies whose patents were made into GSM and 3G specs have signed legal documents like this one [etsi.org], while Apple did not. FRAND is voluntary - it doesn't automatically apply to your patents unless you declare that it does (but most standard organizations require that you do that if you propose a standard, implementing which requires a patent that you hold).

    • It's very simple: those are the terms of being incorporated into the standard. When standards like GSM are proposed, all of the involved parties (typically meaning all of the people who do a nontrivial amount of research in the field) meet and say 'we have a very good way of doing that' and if other people agree that it is as good as they say, then they get to put it in the standard in exchange for FRAND conditions. They benefit, because now everyone who implements the standard must license their patent,

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I still cannot understand why very technical inventions (such as 3G and GSM) can only be licensed under FRAND conditions, but fluff like 'slide to unlock' (have that in my toilet) or rounded corner ("they are everywhere!") yield massive license income.. I would really love to see this before a judge so we can finally get this mess cleaned up for good.

      Rather, why is software able to be patented at all?

      You cant patent 2+2=4 because anyone can figure that out, same with software. Someone with no exposure to your software, with the same goal is likely to figure out the same way to do it if it is the most logical conclusion, same as 2+2=4.

      But this is Apple more or less admitting it has no real case and stands to have more damage done to it by fighting Samsung. Their attempts to get injunctions have failed, the Galaxy brand has gone gangbusters, Apple l

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:18AM (#39722539)

    I hope that this is a sign that saner heads are starting to prevail now that they no longer have an ego-maniac at the helm. Steve Jobs definitely had a very good sense of aesthetics and industrial design, which led to excellent products and services. But by all accounts he was, to put it mildly, an asshole.

    I really hope that under the current leadership, Apple will start learning to play more nicely with others without sacrificing the aspects that brought them to the point they're at now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apple offered [wsj.com] settlement deals to both Samsung *and* Motorala before enteringlitigation. Yes, even with Steve Jobs at the helm.

      Perhaps you ought to check your facts before speaking ill of the dead.

      • Guessing, but I'd bet there was a 'fuck you' clause specifically put in by Steve.

      • Apple offered [wsj.com] settlement deals to both Samsung *and* Motorala before enteringlitigation.

        Yes, and I'm sure Samsung and Motorola in turn offered settlement deals to Apple before entering litigation.

        That is how the legal world works:
        "Why don't you give me $20 per device?"
        "No. Why don't *you* give *me* $20 per device?"
        "See you in court"

        The important detail is the terms of the deal that was offered, not the fact that a deal was offered in itself.

    • by danomac (1032160)

      I hope that this is a sign that saner heads are starting to prevail now that they no longer have an ego-maniac at the helm.

      You mean Apple under Cook may consider allowing Flash on their devices? The most recent complaints I've heard about the iPads from coworkers is that their shiny new toy doesn't seem to be able to show all of the webpages they look at.

      That could get interesting, but I'm pretty sure Jobs has starting rolling in his grave already...

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I hope that this is a sign that saner heads are starting to prevail now that they no longer have an ego-maniac at the helm.

      Not really, it's a sign that someone at Apple has realised that they have no case against Samsung. They never really did, Apple was hoping to cause enough delay and interference that Samsung would give up (Dear Fanboys, remember that Apple did not ask for license fees from Samsung like most patent disputes, they sought injunctions to prevent Samsung from selling their products and that Apple struck first). A poor gambit that failed miserably.

      Now they are appealing to Samsung not to crush them in the lega

  • It always struck me as really weird how Samsung was a major supplier for parts for Apple products AND the target of lawsuits by them.

    It just seems terribly terribly inefficient. Instead of haggling over an agreement to a suit, just haggle over the cost of the parts.

    Sort of like Samsung saying "how about we do away with this lawsuit and just discount price of the massive amount of memory you're buying from us?"

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:43AM (#39722819)

      Sort of like Samsung saying "how about we do away with this lawsuit and just discount price of the massive amount of memory you're buying from us?"

      Samsung is a big company. The Samsung vice president of memory would tell the Samsung vice president of tablet design to f*** off if he were asked to sell memory to Apple cheaper. That's _his_ profit and _his_ bonus on the line, and he won't give that up because some other vice president had to produce a tablet design that gets them sued.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Sort of like Samsung saying "how about we do away with this lawsuit and just discount price of the massive amount of memory you're buying from us?"

        Samsung is a big company. The Samsung vice president of memory would tell the Samsung vice president of tablet design to f*** off if he were asked to sell memory to Apple cheaper. That's _his_ profit and _his_ bonus on the line, and he won't give that up because some other vice president had to produce a tablet design that gets them sued.

        This, Both would be under the same banner, Samsung Electronics so they'd be under the same C level execs who would tell both sides to fuck such a deal off.

        These talks are happning because Apple has realised it cant win in court. They've tried all kinds of legal tricks to get injunctions but none of them worked. The Galaxy tab sold well and Apple failed in stopping it. These talks are Apple asking Samsung nicely not to crush them in the courtroom. Apple did the same thing with Nokia in it's patent suit.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:22AM (#39722581)
    The court ordered them to talk and try to reach an agreement; something a judge can do. However, that does not mean they have to settle. Since it is both CEOs and senior council at the talks, you'd think they could reach an agreement. Cook seems like a rational person, and I assume the head of Samsung is as well. My guess is some sort of cross licensing deal with maybe an agreement to keep talking to avoid food fights in the future. This is a classic case of both sides needing the other and to try to find a way to put away the gun they've pointed at each others head without losing face.
    • Not sure why you thought the headline was misleading, unless you didn't read until the last word.

      They agreed to talks, not settlements. Which is exactly what the headline says.

      • by xeno314 (661565)

        Eh, it's misleading for a couple reasons that lay people don't always realize. Think of it like this - it works in exactly the same way that news organizations make headlines out of people pleading 'not guilty'. That isn't news. Any attorney would advise their client to plead not guilty at the initial arraignment - you do the leg work and dealing on the case later, and maybe the plea gets changed in a deal. Either way, it's boilerplate to start with 'not guilty'.

        This is an equally unremarkable headline.

  • I will be happy to see this situation come to a close. Would like it better if the whole patent system were reworked, but I will take a small amount of progress any day. It's a bad thing that corporations use bludgeons because if you don't you get beaten down. Restore some sanity in the process, please!
  • is a SUE-ANCE!
  • Hm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:34AM (#39722727)

    it could be a positive signal that Apple might be willing to license the patents under Tim Cook, versus fight it out in court under the late Steve Jobs.

    Or it could be a sign that Apple realized they're fighting a losing battle so they're trying to salvage what little they can keep.

  • Intellectual property litigation attorneys weep
  • That's sweet. I heard both sides agreed to hug when the urge to file a motion arises. Samsung will get a custom plushie of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook gets a pony. Pffft! What is this namby pamby crap? I want my corporations FIGHTING! Fight, you pansies! Cook, take those damn chakrams back out of your briefcase and forge you some whoop ass! FINISH THEM!

  • Just because they have to sit down and talk doesn't mean they will arrive at any agreements. What it does mean is that they will likely help to narrow down a variety of issue such as what is mutually agreed upon and what is mutually disputed. As we saw in the Oracle vs Google situation, they also went into talks. What they ended up with was some narrowing down of things. There was no way Google was going to agree to give anything to Oracle.

    I still see much potential to the idea that Apple vs Samsung vs

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