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DoJ Investigating Samsung For Patent Abuse 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-as-well-investigate-somebody dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Good news for Apple, bad news for Samsung. Yesterday, Apple filed legal papers with the International Trade Commission citing a Department of Justice investigation into whether Samsung is misusing its 'Standards essential' patents in ways which violate antitrust law. Apple claims Samsung has violated commitments to license its essential patents to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Or, more specifically, Samsung is 'using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products.' The article says Google (because of its recent acquisition, Motorola Mobility) is under the same scrutiny."
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DoJ Investigating Samsung For Patent Abuse

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  • Says Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Terry Pearson (935552) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:51PM (#41756999) Homepage Journal
    Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black!
    • not even (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:58PM (#41757103) Journal

      This is almost comedy - apple is going to try to claim what samsung proved *apple* did in the lawsuit against samsung which it has now basically lost? Talk about trying for a third attempt to stop your competition through abusing the legal system. Outlined here: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20121022054044954 [groklaw.net]

      summary is that Apple:
      sued samsung, claiming samsung abused patents ("charging too much!") while simultaneously abusing patents and encouraging people to use windows phones (hello antitrust!) and anyone other than google. This should set the DOJ off onto investigating *apple/ms/oracle*.

      Not only is that hilariously pot -> kettle, but also it doesn't mean the DOJ is investigating anything.

      • Re:not even (Score:5, Insightful)

        by starworks5 (139327) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @05:02PM (#41757157) Homepage

        Not even sound jurisprudence will get in the way of crony capitalism, the higher you get in the appeals process the more it appears to be a kangaroo court.

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Interesting read, I think ultimately this patent war will hurt Apple a lot more through PR than anything. Probably won't matter in a few years, their PR is going to shit now anyways (a smartphone w/o working maps anyone?), so... when Apple goes out of business, are those patents then invalidated?

        • Re:not even (Score:5, Insightful)

          by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @05:26PM (#41757497)
          A Patent Troll will buy them and sue everyone else all over again. That's how the system works.
        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          Never met an apple fan?
        • by tsotha (720379)

          Intellectual property is like real property. You can sell it when you need money. In bankruptcy it's an asset that goes to creditors. I don't see any real chance that Apple will go out of business, but if they did the most likely end would be purchase by Google or Oracle. Maybe even Microsoft. The patents would go to the purchaser.

          That's why Google bought Motorola Mobility. Not because the company had a product or production capacity they wanted, or they thought they could transition Motorola custome

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Intellectual property is like real property.

            But it isn't private property. If I write a book, it's not like striking oil on my own property, it's like leasing Federal property to drill for oil. Like the leased oil, I can sell my copyright, but the work itself isn't what's being sold, it's the LIMITED TIME monopoly that's being sold.

            Like the oil field on federal land, all I own is a lease. I no more own the book I wrote than I do the house I rent. In both cases, I have a monopoly on the property, but I do no

      • An adminstration that is "socialist" is investingating corporate abuse as much as the last corporate crony administration.

        That is not at all.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by tsotha (720379)

          Actually, the Bush administration was far more active in prosecuting corporate malfeasance. When Enron collapsed the principals were prosecuted pretty vigorously. Hell, they put Martha Stewart in jail.

          On the other hand, when MF Global collapsed (one of the top ten bankruptcies in US history), a collapse that involved misappropriation of customer funds, the Obama administration did... well, nothing. How is it Jon Corzine is still a free man?

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Stewart didn't go to jail for financial crimes. They couldn't get her for those.

            She went to jail for lying to investigators under oath. Quite dumb of her frankly.

            • by tsotha (720379)

              Actually, no, she wasn't under oath at the time. She ran afoul of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001 [findlaw.com]. And while you're right they didn't actually convict her for insider trading, the reason she went to jail, ultimately, was because they believed she was engaging in insider trading.

              Anyway, my point stands. The Bush administration was much harder on white collar criminals than the Obama administration.

              • by hhw (683423)
                Martha Stewart's prosecution was highly publicized so that it would appear that white collar criminals were being cracked down. If you're going to make the argument that this goes beyond an isolated case, and was a general and significant trend, please provide a citation.
              • by scot4875 (542869)

                Anyway, my point stands

                No it doesn't. The Obama administration just sued Wells Fargo and Bank of America. My 2 examples cancel out your 2 examples.

                You don't have a point until you have data to back your point, and 2 examples don't count as data.

                --Jeremy

                • by tsotha (720379)

                  No it doesn't. The Obama administration just sued Wells Fargo and Bank of America. My 2 examples cancel out your 2 examples.

                  Hardly. Name one significant corporate executive the Obama administration has sent to jail.

      • by Rob Y. (110975)

        What determines a patent on a standard requiring RAND licensing? It would seem that 'pinch to zoom' and 'slide to unlock' have become de-facto standards for touch-screen devices. How is it that trivial patents like those can be used to block sales of a device when a patent that controls the basic functioning of a device must be licensed to precisely those competitors that are abusing the trivial ones? And you can't even block sales of the devices when the infringer refuses to strike a RAND deal...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Desler (1608317)

          It's determined by their inclusion into a published standard which has rules about FRAND licensing of all included patented works. Apple's patents aren't part of such a standard and not subject to FRAND rules. What was hard about that?

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Whats so hard to understand that FRAND requires apple to negotiate, and they decide not to then they can still be held for not having a license for that tech.

          • Re:not even (Score:5, Informative)

            by Elldallan (901501) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @09:04PM (#41759911)
            From what I read the problem is that the typical negotiations on FRAND patents is that I want to license patent X and in return u get to license patent Y plus $Z(or the other way around). This is of course fine but then Apple comes along and wants to license some FRAND patents but refuse to include any of their own patents in the deal but they still expect to pay only $Z. Samsung tells Apple no way thats completely unreasonable, either you agree to license us some of your patents or you pay a lot more than $Z... Apple does not like that and instead decides to whine to the Department of Justice and the ITC.
        • Re:not even (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tlhIngan (30335) <<slashdot> <at> <worf.net>> on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:11PM (#41758217)

          What determines a patent on a standard requiring RAND licensing? It would seem that 'pinch to zoom' and 'slide to unlock' have become de-facto standards for touch-screen devices. How is it that trivial patents like those can be used to block sales of a device when a patent that controls the basic functioning of a device must be licensed to precisely those competitors that are abusing the trivial ones? And you can't even block sales of the devices when the infringer refuses to strike a RAND deal...

          Easy.

          A standards body, like IEEE, 3GPP, etc., decide they want a new standard. Ethernet (yes, there are patents on all parts). WiFi (plenty to go around). 5G, Codec. whatever. They get together industry to help them produce the new standard. Industry presents their technology, and they hash out what will make it and what doesn't. As a condition for having the technology included in the new standard, all related patents to use that technology must be FRAND licensed. Otherwise you get a really broken spec where competitors cannot implement the standard because the companies refuse to license.

          It's also a big game of political football - technologies that are great may be shunned and inferior ones used because the company with the inferior technology greased more palms. It's pretty lucrative.

          Basically a patent is FRAND licensed if it's used in a standard for that standard only, because you can't implement the standard without that patent.

          Apple needs ot license Samsung patents in order to produce a phone because Samsung put their technology into the celluar spec, probably LTE or 3G, and you cannot build a phone without those patents (implementing the standard automatically violates the patent).

          However, the other things like pinch-to-zoom and slide-to-unlock (if valid), are not part of a standard (there's no standard for "smartphone" that everyone has to follow). You could tap a sequence of numbers to unlock (say, entering a PIN code). You could require the user press the power button three times to unlock, etc.

          An de-facto standards aren't standards - Microsoft doesn't have to license you the Office patents to implement something that reads Office documents (which they provide), even though Office is a defacto standard in business. Well, they do for their XML standard (because they submitted it as a standard), but not for say, the .doc format.

          TiVo's got the same thing - they have a bunch of core DVR patents that if you implement one, you pretty much have to license it, but they don't have to.

          As an aside, a lot of standards also have licensing bodies where you can acquire a license to every patent for one fee without having to talk to any of the participants - MPEG has MPEG-LA to license you all the patents used for a video codec, I think the IEEE has one as well for Ethernet and WiFi. 3GPP doesn't (which means if you want to build a phone, you have to talk to everyone).

          • by PortHaven (242123)

            OkaY,

            Any Slashdotters want to form a standards association with me. We will evaluate and release a standard for intuitive network connected device (INCD) interactions, recommended design layouts, and features.

            > an INCD should have a rectangular shape. It is preferably that a 16:9 ratio is utilized but not required.
            > an INCD should have slightly rounded faces to reduce user injury.
            > an INCD should have a flat screen, preferably with touch sensitivity.
            > an INCD should adopt a number of gestures:
            -

          • by micheas (231635)

            IIRC LTE is not a standard and thus not subject to FRAND licensing terms.

            IIRC the Apple v. world lawsuits caused the cell phone manufactures to decide to implement LTE in an adhoc basis.

          • by scot4875 (542869)

            And the small thing that gets left out by Apple fanbois:

            FRAND patent pools are there for organizations that contribute to the pools. Everybody contributes, everybody gets a cheap/reasonable price to license the entire pool.

            Apple doesn't want to contribute, yet they still think they're entitled to the cheap price that contributors get.

            --Jeremy

      • Re:not even (Score:4, Informative)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @06:13PM (#41758235) Homepage

        This is almost comedy

        No, it is comedy, a farce to be exact.

      • by freman (843586)

        That was my first reaction - if apple hadn't started this shit it wouldn't be a problem

        The mobile phone industry was getting along quite happily before apple came along, minor squibbles and scuffles but for the most part it was a quiet industry.... apple comes along and starts suing everyone...

        Besides... how many small countries does apple want to buy?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by foniksonik (573572)

          And you don't suppose it was Samsung et al the existing phone makers who tried to keep Apple out?

          Which is more likely? The old guard with everything to lose, no need to innovate and a complacent consumer base - does everything in its power to keep out competition. Or. A new competitor with everything to gain, innovation oozing out of every pore, sues and fights at every turn to stay in the game.

    • Re:Says Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @05:00PM (#41757127) Homepage

      Just another move in the on-going patent wars. Apple must ultimately lose, or we are all screwed.

      • Broader than that... people that want the idea of "Intelectual Property" to prevail need to fail.

        Anyone here say they are a "strict consitutionalist"??? You should be on my side.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      I feel like there should be a smoking robot somewhere repeating "DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE!"

    • Pot and Kettle in a steel cage match. What could be better entertainment? There sure are a lot of complaints from people who will vote for more of the same in less than two weeks. I say make the best of it. All this bellyaching isn't going to change a damn thing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by CDPatten (907182)

      I think you guys don't understand what “standards essential” patents are and how they came to become STANDARDS essential. You seem to think common patents = standards essential patents, and that just isn’t the case.

      So for the record, Apple really isn't abusing standards essential patents like Samsung/Motorola. When a standard is being debated, and before it's agreed on by a standard body, the patent owner is consultant and (in virtually all cases where it becomes a standard) the owner

      • Re:Says Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @05:55PM (#41757981) Journal

        So for the record, Apple really isn't abusing standards essential patents like Samsung/Motorola.

        I wasn't aware that Samsung were abusing standards essential patents at all.

        My understanding is they're willing to licence them on fair and reasonable terms. Apple on the other hand insist on using them without licencing them.

        charging absurd rates

        So Samsung want $6 (per phone) for patents essential to the very nature of a device, while Apple want $30 (per phone) for patents that should never have been fucking granted in the first place.

        While you're right about absurd rates, I'm not sure you realise just who is trying to charge them.

        • Is $6 fair and reasonable? Is it the same fair and reasonable that other licensees get?

          The other thing is irrelevant.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Flat screen, slightly rounded edges....essential.

        Maybe we need to dig up Steve Jobs and put a bullet through his head?

    • by Karlt1 (231423)

      Samsung agreed to license its patents under FRAND so that they would be part of the standard. When did Apple agree to license its patents to anyone to become part of a standard?

    • And Apple gets no scrutiny, the US should go to a little third world country to find out how to be less corrupt, justice, what a joke.

    • Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black!

      Or the alligator calling the crocodile cruel.

  • ... what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ZiakII (829432) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:53PM (#41757031)
    Samsung is 'using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products.'

    Can Apple sue Samsung for using Apples business plan?
  • by starworks5 (139327) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:53PM (#41757037) Homepage

    Seriously? you mean thin tablets with rounded corners, is any less worse of an abuse than what samsung has done?

  • by dclozier (1002772) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:56PM (#41757073)
    Yes their patents may not be under FRAND but it looks like they *should* be.

    Apple's Licensing Offer To Samsung Raises Questions About FRAND Rates and What's Behind the Attacks on Google [groklaw.net]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where's the same scrutiny for Apple? In the same universe where Samsung is also an American company.

    • by tooyoung (853621)

      Yes their patents may not be under FRAND but it looks like they *should* be.

      Is there a standards organization that determines visual and behavioral GUI standards for the entire phone and tablet industry? If not, then why would the Apple GUI patents be covered by FRAND?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple is the one company I absolutely despise most. I think I'm going to put some krylon tape on the breather hole of my 1tb seagate hard drive and make them replace it for free under applecare.

    That'll teach em!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Put the CEO of Apple and the CEO of Samsung in a room (rounded corners optional). The last one alive is the winner of EVERYTHING.

    • by Roobles (1880882)

      Put the CEO of Apple and the CEO of Samsung in a room (rounded corners optional). The last one alive is the winner of EVERYTHING.

      The problem there is that Apple's CEO would cheat and use dirty tricks to win.

      • by mrbester (200927)

        This is true even if Apple sent an ex-CEO as they'd argue about the meaning of "alive" citing "Weekend at Bernie's" (an Apple film, remember? No? Have a lawsuit to jog the memory) as prima facie evidence.

      • by Jeng (926980)

        There is no cheating. The rules are simple, two men enter, one man leaves.

    • This is 100% Apple's fault. Apple started all of this. Samsung, Google, everybody else, is trying to protect themselves against Apple.

  • According to the ITC [groklaw.net] judge reviewing Apple's complaints about Samsung's standards essential patents, Apple didn't avail themselves to any of the existing remedies when they felt Samsung wasn't offering them a fair licensing deal. They essentially said "You're asking for too much, so we're not paying anything."
    If Apple really felt the prices were too high, there are processes in place to force Samsung to the negotiating table. They didn't use any of them. There's no evidence they even made a counter-offer.
    Seems more like Apple just doesn't care about other people's patents than Samsung is offering an unfair deal.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      Yea its Apple its alright for them to file for product bans but its not alright for anyone to file for bans of its products. Apple has some sad ass double standards.
    • by mrbester (200927)

      Then surely they've missed their chance? They had the opportunity, didn't take it, tough luck.

    • There must something to it given that the EU and South Korea are also investigating Samsung.
  • War. War never changes.
    The Romans waged war to gather slaves and wealth. Spain built an empire from its lust for gold and territory. Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an economic superpower.

    But war never changes.

    In the 21st century, war was still waged over the resources that could be acquired. Only this time, the spoils of war were also its weapons: patents and licensing agreements. For these resources, Apple would invade Alaska, Microsoft would annex Canada, and Samsung would dissolve into quarreling,

  • Samsung is 'using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products.'

    Uh, dude. That's what patents are for. They grant the holder exclusive rights to the invention. I don't see any exceptions for monopolization, anti trust or whatever in the relevant Constitutional clause or subsequent enacting legislation.

  • That must be why the DOJ's too busy to go after all the habitual patent troll companies.
  • HEY ALL YOU WISHFUL THINKER APPLE ZEALOTS. Do the world a favor, take off your Apple hats remove your Steve Jobs for messiah buttons, fold them up, stuff them up your asses, fly to Guyana, drink your Apple flavored Kool Aid and join your cultist brethren that your last bay area messiah produced. Just because your bloody CULT LEADERS filed yet another set of CRAP legal documents doesn't mean the DOJ is going to DROP EVERYTHING and investigate Samsung. REGARDLESS of how much money you gave to the Obama re
  • Soooo..... DOJ is investigating a foreign company rising from BS complaints of the american company. Sounds like business as usual.
  • Why does this story sound like something out of Atlas Shrugged 2?

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