If you haven't heard, Germany has pretty much become the hotspot for smartphone and tablet patent litigation. Most recently, HTC has been hitting headlines in its ongoing battle against IPCom, an intellectual property firm. IPCom claims that HTC's smartphones violate a number of its patents in the realm of 3G GSM technology. HTC says that the last time it made a phone which might have violated those patents was in 2009, and that it has since developed a workaround which does not infringe on IPCom's patents.
OK, before I even get into this post, let me be clear: this is based on old news. However, it was news that no one seemed to pick up at the time, and when we discovered it, we thought it was quite interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Lodsys, let's start with a history lesson. They're better known as the shell corporation offspring of a company called Intellectual Ventures LLC, a patent clearinghouse owned by a group of, shall we say, enterprising individuals.
4G. The acronym is probably the most abused term in tech industry since "HD." And if you spend as much time reading up on mobile phone news as us (we hope you don't, that's what we're for!), you probably have come to the same conclusion: it's almost without meaning, constantly misrepresented, and defined on a completely subjective basis. We don't like any of this.
Neither do some of the members of congress, apparently.
It certainly seems like it. Yesterday, Microsoft announced via blog that it had concluded negotiations with Samsung and reached a licensing deal for the same seven patents it previously licensed to HTC for Android (along with other, smaller Android manufacturers). There were rumblings about just what royalty rate Samsung is paying, but the guess is anywhere from $5 to $15 per handset (it's likely on a percentage-of-MSRP basis - so think about 1-3% per $500 MSRP phone).
Everyone's getting on the peace train, it seems. T-Mobile, in concert with Verizon's filing last week, submitted an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief to the Federal Court for the Northern District of California this morning in regard to the ongoing patent and trademark suit between Samsung and Apple. Its contents? Basically the same thing Verizon's said - that denying Americans their 4G Samsung devices just for some silly little patent infringement will hurt 4G deployment in the US and decrease access to high-speed mobile broadband.
Well, this is certainly an interesting turn of events. In Samsung and Apple's ongoing attempts to sue the pants off one another in every court conceivable, an unlikely player has stepped into the arena as a voice of reason (sort of).
Verizon Wireless, the US's largest wireless carrier, has requested permission to file a brief in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California on the part of Samsung in one of the many lawsuits it is involved in with Apple.
If you head over to FOSSPatents this morning, you'll find a rather lengthy article about Google's acquisition of Motorola that ends with the following conclusion:
Google bought MMI to prevent the worst for Google's strategy, not to make things better for everyone else.
In a way, the $12.5 billion price represents protection money. But not in the way most people seem to think.
This statement is obviously contrary to the heaps of coverage the Motorola-Google deal received from major news outlets, blogs, and Android enthusiasts.
After Apple decided to sue HTC last month in Delaware for patent infringement, it seems the handset maker is preparing to put on a little bit of high-profile litigation of its own.
This morning, HTC filed a claim in the U.S. District Court in Delaware alleging three counts of patent infringement against Apple, seeking all the typical damages bells and whistles that makes it sound like the world as we know it is at stake.
This morning, as part of the ongoing Samsung v Apple patent litigation, the German court responsible for imposing a ban on Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in the EU has backpedaled, temporarily lifting the injunction enjoining Samsung from distributing its flagship tablet in the European Union.
Why? It appears the German court decided that it may lack the authority to enjoin Samsung's Korean parent corporation under the EU's regulations regarding international jurisdiction.
Lately, it seems like news about patent lawsuits and bullying is worse than most Hollywood gossip. Frankly, most of the suits are about as justified as Hollywood gossip, if not less. Nevertheless, there are bright spots - such as when the big dogs step up alongside developers to help fight back the patent trolls. Such happened yesterday, when it was revealed that Google has joined Apple in the fight against patent troll Lodsys' claims against developers.