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FTC Expresses Concern Over Handling of Standards-Essential Patents

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All Things D: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent a letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) expressing concern about increasingly hostile global patent battles. The FTC worries that companies will attempt to charge unreasonably high licensing fees for standards-related patents and then seek import bans from the ITC if other companies refuse to pay those licensing fees.

Both Microsoft and Apple have accused Motorola of seeking sales bans related to standards-based patents, and both companies applauded the FTC's letter. “No one should be able to get an injunction off a standards patent, because the owner is obligated to license it in a fair and reasonable manner,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Apple has not sued anyone over standards-essential patents that we own, because we feel it’s fundamentally wrong to do that. The problem in this industry is that if you add up what everyone says their standards-essential patents are worth, no one would be in the phone business.”

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