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Apple Suit Against Motorola Over FRAND Licensing Rates Dismissed 249

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the stop-wasting-our-time dept.
chill writes "A suit by Apple claiming that Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google, is seeking unreasonably high license fees for the use of patents on wireless technology has been thrown out by a judge in Madison, Wisconsin. Last week, Apple told the court it would pay up to $1 per device for a license to Motorola patents covering cellular and Wi-Fi technologies. Motorola Mobility was arguing for a royalty payment of 2.25 percent on each device." From the article: "'At the final pretrial conference, I asked Apple to explain why it believed the court should determine a FRAND rate even though the rate may not resolve the parties' licensing or infringement disputes,' Crabb wrote in an order on Friday. 'I questioned whether it was appropriate for a court to undertake the complex task of determining a FRAND rate if the end result would be simply a suggestion that could be used later as a bargaining chip between the parties.'"
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Apple Suit Against Motorola Over FRAND Licensing Rates Dismissed

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  • Apple also said... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sconeu (64226) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:00PM (#41888723) Homepage Journal

    Apple also said it would ignore the court's order if it chose more than $1/device.

    • by jkrise (535370) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:12PM (#41888853) Journal

      Apple also said it would ignore the court's order

      Steve Jobs should've been alive.... and witnessed the humiliation his so-called thermonuclear war is bringing onto his beloved company.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If Steve Jobs were alive, he'd have RDFed the judge into agreeing with him.

      • by Tough Love (215404) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:50PM (#41889217)

        Apple was a thug long before Steve Jobs declared thermonuclear war, but Jobs was a master at concealing that. Tim Cook isn't. This is one of several reasons that it is just wonderful for the rest of us that Tim Cook now runs Apple.

        • by mjwx (966435) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:56PM (#41889267)

          Apple was a thug long before Steve Jobs declared thermonuclear war, but Jobs was a master at concealing that. Tim Cook isn't. This is one of several reasons that it is just wonderful for the rest of us that Tim Cook now runs Apple.

          Actually, Steve Jobs wasn't very good at concealing the fact he was an arsehole, this we have known since the 80's. Granted Tim Cook is worse at it, but that doesn't make Steve Jobs good at it.

          Think of it this way, I'm a better singer than 99.9999% of all rappers, but that doesn't mean I can hold a note (nor does it stop me wailing 80's power ballads down the highway).

          • by jhoegl (638955) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:26PM (#41889571)

            Think of it this way, I'm a better singer than 99.9999% of all rappers, but that doesn't mean I can hold a note (nor does it stop me wailing 80's power ballads down the highway).

            The RIAA may beg to differ. At the rate we are going, our cars will listen to what we are singing, determine how many people are in the car listening to it, and automatically charge you for royalties on each person as well as a surcharge for bad singing.

            • by mjwx (966435) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:40PM (#41889681)

              Think of it this way, I'm a better singer than 99.9999% of all rappers, but that doesn't mean I can hold a note (nor does it stop me wailing 80's power ballads down the highway).

              The RIAA may beg to differ. At the rate we are going, our cars will listen to what we are singing, determine how many people are in the car listening to it, and automatically charge you for royalties on each person as well as a surcharge for bad singing.

              I'm sure I'm out of tune enough for it to be considered an original work. Especially with the low standards of originality in the music industry.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gentryx (759438) *
              You're laughing, but here in Germany the GEMA (fills in for the RIAA in Germany) is charging the educators at Kindergartens for the songs they sing with the kids.
    • Judges really don't like it when you ignore them. If Apple keeps going down this road as with the advertisement debacle its going to get a spanking it will be a long time forgetting.

    • by TigerTime (626140) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:18PM (#41888921)

      Wait, and wasn't Apple wanting something like $30/phone from Samsung for rounded corners, the bounce back patents, and a couple other small ones???

      $1 is laughable when compared to the importance of the phone.

      • by siddesu (698447) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:33PM (#41889057)

        Some might argue that the most important feature of the phone from the perspective of the marker is how well it sells. And when it comes to that, the rounded corners and the way the interface looks and behaves may be much more important than the actual tech that is working inside. People base a lot of purchasing decision on recommendations and advertising, not on reading the full specs.

        • by Tough Love (215404) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:56PM (#41889257)

          Regarldess of the merit of your speculation on the importance of rounded corners relative to the functionality of a phone, it would seem that the legal world is now coming around to the belated realization that rounded corners are not actually something you can patent. [project-disco.org]

          • by siddesu (698447)
            I am not speculating about the importance of rounded corners relative to the functionality of the phone, I am merely making the point about the importance of the looks to the saleability of the product. What the legal world is thinking about patentaibility of rounded corners now is completely irrelevant. Apple did not make the cash pile they are sitting on because of the patents.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Tough Love (215404)

              Apple did not make the cash pile they are sitting on because of the patents.

              Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Apple lost more than $100 billion of market value in the last seven weeks, after becoming a patent troll.

              • by siddesu (698447)
                How so? They started suing people around only after the said people made competitive products that sold well. IIRC, the first Apple suit about the iPhone came in 2010, against HTC. At that time, the iPhone and the iPad were already quite successful and making quite a lot of money.
        • by jrumney (197329) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:09PM (#41889407) Homepage

          Some might argue that the most important feature of the phone from the perspective of the marker is how well it sells.

          The most important feature of a phone from the perspective of a marker is how absorbent the surfaces are. Gorilla glass - the marker is just going to rub off. Plastic is generally better but you still need to avoid touching it for a while to let it dry. Paper would be better, but not a practical material to make smart phones out of.

        • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:27PM (#41889573)
          So making the phone look good is more important than making the phone a phone? Do iPod Touch's outsell iPhones?
        • by Grieviant (1598761) * on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:06PM (#41889815)
          The "some that might argue" that are fools ignorant of the communications technology in cellular phones. Apple abuses their FRAND free ride on the significant communications R&D that has taken place over the last 20 years and tries to gouge everyone else on artsy fartsy design and software patents that wouldn't exist without the complicity of clueless patent examiners.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BitZtream (692029)

            Not really, they don't make their own baseband chips, they buy from someone else who makes them and has been part of that R&D effort over the last 20 years.

            I hear what you're trying to say, but its just not true since they mostly use Qualcomm's chips.

            While I don't agree with patents like Apple is using in general, I'm still kind of with Apple on the Samsung thing as it was CLEARLY intended to look like an iDevice in its original form.

            Apple's patent shit does piss me off in that I realize one of the reas

            • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @03:59AM (#41891147)

              While I don't agree with patents like Apple is using in general, I'm still kind of with Apple on the Samsung thing as it was CLEARLY intended to look like an iDevice in its original form.

              That's not clear at all. It was designed to look like a modern fashion phone. It could equally have been designed to look like an LG Prada, and in fact, given the extra buttons and Samsung logo, the Samsung phones are much closer to that than an iPhone. The iPhone was clearly also designed to look a bit like a Prada. The fact that the two are similar does not have to mean that there is any direct design link whatsoever.

              The key thing to understand is that some level of copying is legitimate here. Car gear shifts all look identical so that you can use them easily. Phones dialpads look similar so you can dial in the same way. Modern monitors mostly have the buttons hidden in the bottom right so they look cool but you can still find them. All of next years clothes will have the set of colours which are currently being shown by the top designers. Part of this is functional and part of this is trying to define expectation through a common look.

              Everyone copies and that's okay. It wouldn't be okay if the products were indistinguishable, but they weren't. Apple had a registered design. They could expect protection of that, and Samsung didn't use it. Apple could expect copyrights to mean Samsung would not to do a literal copy of their design and they did not. Anything more is just sour grapes.

        • by sjames (1099)

          I don't think so. First and foremost, a phone must actually be a phone. If it doesn't actually do something, it's not going to sell at all. Would you pay $600 for a polished slab of solid plastic?

        • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:45AM (#41891531) Journal

          And this people is why America is doomed. On a tech site, filled supposedly with nerds, someone actually claims that in a piece of high tech equipment, design is more important for usefulness then the tech inside that allows it to do what it is supposed to do. Yes, rounded corners are more important for a phone then the tech that makes it able to make phone calls...

          Oh, I am fully willing to accept that siddesu is just a moron who doesn't know anything about the patents in question but still, this is supposed to be a tech site. Claiming $30 bucks for design vs $1 for vital tech... it is clearly insane. Only managers who spend more on advertising then on development think that. Don't worry if it works, we just sell it with more advertising. It is actually lethal and has been proven so before, the first rise of the Japanese car industry happened over Detroit just adding more fins rather then innovating.

          People don't read the full specs...

          Yeah because when you are buying a phone, being able to make phone calls with it, that is just details. It is the styling! You might not be able to use it but damn, does it look good!

    • No, Apple did not say that. They said they would be willing to pay $1 per device WITHOUT a court order.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by viperidaenz (2515578)
        But their offer is an implication their devices willfully infringe the patents. They're refusing to pay the $1 per device on the millions of devices they agree infringe on Motorola's patents but have already sold and profited from.
      • depending on who you are...
    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Wow. If I were the judge that would really torque me. I would set the rate at 10 bucks wait for them to defy me and then start throwing officers in jail.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:01PM (#41888737) Journal

    I do not understand why the same company which sued others over some lousy rounded corners refuses to pay royalties over others' patents?

    If I expect others to pay me over some lousy rounded corners I expect myself to play the same game - and will pay the royalty I owed to others when I use their patents.

    At least, that was been taught to me by my elders.

    Maybe Apple Inc has other kinds of "elders" - one who expect others to pay them while refusing to pay others.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:04PM (#41888767)

      Because Apple made it's billions stealing other people's ideas, and it would really cut into their profits if they had to pay to use the ideas they're appropriating.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:05PM (#41888789)

      It's pretty straightforward, actually: Apple are a bunch of cunts. Hope that clears things up.

    • by slew (2918) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:14PM (#41888871)

      Apple: All your ideas are belong to us.

      What more to understand?

    • by alen (225700) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:15PM (#41888885)

      i'll get modded down but the way FRAND works is the rates are usually a few cents per device and you cross license any FRAND patents that you have as well. you don't have to license non-FRAND patents.

      apple doesn't have much FRAND patents but they have a lot of non-FRAND patents that others want. everyone else has lots of FRAND but not much non-FRAND that is wanted now. so its a game that lasts years

      in the end apple will write a huge check for back royalties and come to some kind of agreement on everything else

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arbiter1 (1204146)
        the longer apple fights this, the more $ per device they will have to dish out as track record showing apple's refusal to make a deal will hurt then in FTC/court's eye's.
      • by Turboglh (816701)

        A point I've heard mentioned in other places. I guess the divide is between a company who has, and a company who doesn't have, FRAND patents.

        I think the idea is that MotoMobility/Google are asking for a higher rate due to a lack of reciprocal FRAND patents.

        • I think the idea is that MotoMobility/Google are asking for a higher rate due to a lack of reciprocal FRAND patents.

          Reciprocity has nothing to do with FRAND. In fact the whole point of FRAND is that in exchange for being part of the standard the company promises fair and reasonable and non-descriminatory rates. Hence the name. You are suggesting the opposite.

          • Reciprocally licensing patents is part of the price, so when calculating the "fair and reasonable" price for a company that doesn't have any patents to license that way (or does have them, but refuses to license), the dollar price is going to be higher to account for those missing patents.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jkrise (535370)

        apple doesn't have much FRAND patents but they have a lot of non-FRAND patents that others want.

        What? You mean those stupid patents on rounded corners and arranging icons in a row? Others may want such 'features' but they ought not have been allowed to be patented in the first place.

        • by alen (225700)

          rounded corners are design patents. everyone has them. check out the patent office, samsung has patents on the shape of their refrigerators

      • by Tough Love (215404) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:03PM (#41889329)

        apple doesn't have much FRAND patents but they have a lot of non-FRAND patents that others want.

        That is not clearly true at all. It is more accurate to say, Apple says it has a lot of patents that others want. Case in point: the bouncing scroll patent. Invalidated. [gizmodo.com]

        My feeling: Apple has a bunch of junk patents but is skilled at gaming the courts.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JimCanuck (2474366)

        i'll get modded down but the way FRAND works is the rates are usually a few cents per device and you cross license any FRAND patents that you have as well.

        FRAND patents are typically a % of either manufacture or retail costs of the device, in any industry.

        Apple's original argument was the 2.5% was too "expensive" for a iPhone they want to retail for $600 verses the same 2.5% that HTC pays for their $50 disposable phones.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tofubeer (1746800)

      If Motorolla didn't want to license things for a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rate then they should not have made the patent part of the standard. They chose to have it as part of the standard so it is subject to FRAND licensing.

      Apple didn't make "rounded corners" part of a standard (nor did they actually sue over them). They are under no obligation to license that IP at all, let alone at a reasonable rate.

      • by jkrise (535370) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:27PM (#41888993) Journal

        Apple didn't make "rounded corners" part of a standard

        Apple didn't make rounded corners - period; many others did that way before them. The stupid patent office shouldn't have issued patents on such silly things to Apple. And Apple should've been decent enough not to sue others over such trivial pathetic matters.

      • by Turboglh (816701)

        As posted above, a normal part of a FRAND license is reciprocal licensing of your FRAND patents. If you don't have enough (or any) to balance out what you want to license, then a higher rate is to be expected.

      • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:35PM (#41889081) Homepage

        Motorola did offer to license at a FRAND rate. This is normally followed by a negotiation (based on things like is the licensee offering a license to important patents in return), but Apple declined to negotiate. Note that "FRAND" does not mean "whatever rate the licensee wants to pay".

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:38PM (#41889109)

        You sir, are either ill informed or a fanboy.

        Moto offered Apple the same percentage that they offer everyone. Everyone else has goodies that Moto was willing to accept in lieu of the full 2.25%. Moto either A. didn't want what Apple was willing to trade or B. Apple didn't want to trade anything Moto wanted. This means Moto was expecting the full 2.25% that it asks from anyone.

        Apple's being a whiny, greedy child and deserves to be punished for infringing on legit IP they NEED to make a smartphone/tablet/etc...

        Moto doesn't need trade dress patents from Apple.

        End of story.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gutnor (872759)

          Apple's being a whiny, greedy child and deserves to be punished for infringing on legit IP they NEED to make a smartphone/tablet/etc...

          Well, complaining about somebody being a fanboy and falling right in the other camp. Unless you give more numbers, it may very well be that Apple has a good case. Motorola could very well have set a very high price for "everybody" knowing that all its best buds would not have to pay anyway. That's not even very advanced, that's just a classic trick.

          Anyway, any new player need to ask authorisation via licensing/exchange to all its competitors because they all hold mandatory patent and are all in bed tog

      • by AnfieldSierra (737890) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:45PM (#41889167)
        And if Apple doesn't want to enter into negitiations with Motorola over the rate of the license then it is not operating in good faith. Other handset manufacturers have licensed Mototola's standards esdsential patents, probably by being reasonable and negotiating like normal people. Apple have played hardball here by refusing to negotiate up front and going straight to court instead. Groklaw, as usual, have a good summary here: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20121105153442192 [groklaw.net]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:27PM (#41888989)

      Apple has the same understanding of property as a cat - once they pee on it, it's theirs. It doesn't matter where an idea came from, once they pee on it/put in a iThing, it's forever Apple's property. It's unreasonable to them to pay anyone for anything they own/peed on, so the only possible value that would constitute FRAND to them is free.

    • by Scowler (667000)

      I don't understand why Slashdot posters continue to cherry pick which legal cases to cite as their basis for painting one Fortune 500 company saintly and another devilish. These large tech companies are involved in dozens of cases / litigations, some of which they are on solid ground, others of which they are on shaky ground. It's true for Apple, it's true for Google, it's true for everybody.

      Actually, I take it back, you probably DO know this, just trolling regardless, huh.

      • AFAIK, google doesn't instigate lawsuits other than against someone suing it. The only counterexample I know of was suing the US Govt for choosing Microsoft in violation of applicable law.

        So if you have examples of Google being as much of a dick as Apple, please do share.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      I do not understand why the same company which sued others over some lousy rounded corners refuses to pay royalties over others' patents?

      It could be that they believe that the technology Motorola is providing adds a certain dollar value to the device, not multiplies the value of the device by its mere presence.

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:06PM (#41888799)
    Yea So far when it comes to these LTE patents it seems like Apple is unreasonable. But best way for samsung and google to battle apple in this case would be provide licensing costs that other phone makers pay for these patents. If Apple is trying to force a a lot lower rate. They apple can be seen as being unreasonable party if case gets to FTC. Apple was offered a # by samsung, Apple just walked away without even trying to negotiate, and LTE patent being only worth $1, per device seems kinda low and iffy. Looking at all these cases Apple is bring on against motorola and refusal to work with samsung on license option. Wonder how long it will be til both google and samsung say they got some litigation for apple, an FTC Import ban, Apple's constant court filing IMO is a clear case of apple not wanting to license these key patents anything that seen as reasonable by samsung/google's means. When it gets to point FTC sales ban comes in to pay against apple, all this crap of apple trying to avoid a license is gonna end up with their balls which Google/Samsung brand shotgun next to them.
  • Smart judge. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Monday November 05, 2012 @09:29PM (#41889009)

    How many judges would have spotted that suit for the Trojan horse it is? This one did, and we are all grateful for it. No, she's not going to get famous for holding The Next Apple Trial, and that's great. For once, we have a judge who just wants to do her job. And she's a judge who knows that her job isn't to generate bargaining chips in commercial contracts negotiations.

    Thank you Judge Barbara Crabb for telling Apple that asking Mommy for permission after Daddy already said no isn't going to work.

  • by frohro (1151353) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @12:10AM (#41890185)
    Well if Apple really only wants to pay $1.00 per phone, and Motorola says 2.25%, why not sell the phones for $44.44? Both companies would be happy, and so I suppose would the consumer.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @12:42AM (#41890343)
    That means Apple cannot re-file the case again.
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @02:27AM (#41890777)

    All the big corps originally thought patent portfolios were a great way to eliminate competition, especially smaller companies that couldn't afford to defend themselves.

    So now I'm _really_ enjoying watching the big companies themselves getting repeatedly screwed directly as a result of their own greed and legal creations.

    I wonder how long it will take before Apple or some other big American corp finally does a U turn and goes whining to the US Government and suddenly the patent law just happens to get reformed.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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