The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has decided to review an earlier decision in which an ITC judge ruled that Apple had not infringed on Samsung’s patents. The commission will consider issues which could have larger implications for the licensing of standards-essential patents in general.
Bloomberg’s Susan Decker reported, “Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, will get another chance to convince a U.S. trade agency that Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad infringe its patents. The U.S. International Trade Commission said yesterday it will review ‘in its entirety’ a trade judge’s Sept. 14 findings that cleared Apple of claims the company violated four Samsung patents. The commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents, is scheduled to make a final decision on Jan. 14.”
All Things D’s Ina Fried noted, “In agreeing to review the administrative judge’s ruling in the case, the ITC is asking the bigger questions here, including when, if at all, a product should be banned if the patents it is accused of infringing are related to an industry standard. Also, what exactly does that commitment to license patents on a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis really mean? ‘Does the mere existence of a FRAND undertaking with respect to a particular patent preclude issuance of an exclusion order based on infringement of that patent?’ the trade body asked in a statement on Monday. ‘Where a patent owner has offered to license a patent to an accused infringer, what framework should be used for determining whether the offer complies with a FRAND undertaking? How would a rejection of the offer by an accused infringer influence the analysis, if at all?'”
According to NetworkWorld’s John Ribeiro, “In a statement in June in the public interest before the ITC, the Federal Trade Commission said that ITC’s issuance of an exclusion or cease and desist order in matters involving implementation of standards-essential patents, that were committed to be licensed on FRAND terms, has the potential to cause substantial harm to U.S. competition, consumers and innovation. FTC was commenting on ITC investigations into complaints by Motorola Mobility, an unit of Google, against Microsoft and Apple. It said it was concerned that a patent owner can make a FRAND commitment, and then seek an exclusion order for infringement of the standards-essential patent as a way of securing royalties that may be inconsistent with the FRAND commitment.”
CNET’s Josh Lowensohn noted, “This ITC case is part of a much wider spat between Apple and Samsung, which are involved in legal confrontations around the globe. Perhaps the largest has been the U.S. trial between the two in a San Jose, Calif., federal court, which wrapped up in August. That decision favored Apple, but has yet to be entirely laid to rest. The two companies are due back in a California court early next month to hash out permanent injunctions and Samsung’s efforts for a re-trial.”