Granted In 19 Hours

Patent examiners have an extremely hard job.  They’re given a patent application—which could be anywhere from a page long up to hundreds of pages, with patent claims ranging from a…

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Qualcomm’s Settlement With Taiwanese FTC Ignores Broken Promises

Last week Qualcomm reached an agreement with the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission (TFTC), overturning the $778 million penalty the TFTC levied in October.  Qualcomm promised to invest $700 million in Taiwan and commit to certain process safeguards over their licensing arrangements with handset makers.  In exchange, the original TFTC ruling is wiped away. Qualcomm will not be required to pay the majority of the fine and—far more important—Qualcomm can continue to ignore license requests from other baseband chip manufacturers.

As covered before, the ability to refuse to license competitors—in violation of Qualcomm’s commitment to license their standard-essential patents on non-discriminatory terms—is an anti-competitive act that provides Qualcomm with the ability to raise competitors’ costs and obtain more than the value of their patents in licensing.  

The TFTC’s failure to require Qualcomm to license competitors on fair terms will hurt competition in the development of 5G technology, allowing Qualcomm to hold up manufacturers who created products based on Qualcomm’s broken FRAND promises.  This, in turn, leads to more expensive 5G products for consumers. In the U.S., the FTC v. Qualcomm is ongoing, with trial expected early in 2019.  It remains to be seen whether the Federal Trade Commission will continue to pursue real remedies for Qualcomm’s anti-competitive conduct or whether it will retreat, as the TFTC did, allowing Qualcomm to pay a fine in order to be able to continue to exclude competitors.

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RALIA Would Take Us Back To The Patent Law Stone Age

At the end of June, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the “Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2018,” H.R. 6264 (RALIA).  RALIA, rather than restoring American innovation, aims to overturn the advances in American patent law that help protect innovation.  Last week, I addressed Rep. Rohrabacher’s ‘Inventor Protection Act’ (IPA) [1][2], and I’ve previously…

Finding A Few Problems In New “Inventor Protection Act”

There’s a bit of a glut of anti-innovation bills in Congress right now, ranging from the STRONGER Patents Act to Rep. Massie’s RALIA bill (which I hope to write about at a later date) and now, Rep. Rohrabacher’s H.R. 6557, the “Inventor Protection Act.”1   The bill begins with legislative findings.  Unfortunately, the “findings” that…

‘Freedom To Operate’ Isn’t Even Close To Free

There’s been an increasing usage of the term “efficient infringement” in the debate over patent reform.  The basic idea is that large companies make an active choice to ignore patents and just pay for them when they lose a lawsuit. The basic idea isn’t correct.  Large companies aren’t making an active choice to ignore patents—in…