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ITU calls for patent peace talks between Apple, Samsung and Microsoft

Organisation is hoping to end patent wars
Tue Oct 16 2012, 14:24
ITU patent event attended by Apple Samsung and Microsoft courtesy of the ITU

THE INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNION (ITU) talked a number of mobile technology firms into negotiations to end their patent lawsuits at a roundtable meeting last week.

The organisation met with employees from Apple, Nokia, Ericsson, Microsoft, Samsung, Research in Motion (RIM) and Motorola at a roundtable on 10 October to try to broker a legal ceasefire between the firms.

The representatives included Apple's chief intellectual property counsel Bruce Watrous, the senior licensing counsel at Motorola Ray Warren and the director general for competition in the European Commission (EC), Thomas Kramler.

Presently all these companies are embroiled in various patent battles in different territories, with Apple's and Samsung's cases being the most prominent due to a recent jury verdict in the US awarding Apple $1bn in damages for alleged design patent infringement.

However, many have argued these cases are stifling innovation in the industry and, as such, the ITU said it is hopeful the meeting held last week will lead to more constructive conversations.

"This meeting agreed a roadmap to address the main concerns; in particular: the conditions under which companies that have made RAND [Reasonable and non-discriminatory] licensing commitments should be allowed to seek injunctions; and clarification of the meaning of the word 'reasonable' in RAND," it said.

In total 78 representatives from various firms, including Qualcomm, Cisco and Huawei attended the event, as well as regulators, patent offices and government staff.

They have scheduled their next meeting for the 24 and 25 January 2013.

Responding to a request for comment, the VP of Nokia’s intellectual property business, Paul Melin, who had attended the ITU’s meeting, told The INQUIRER that the talks were a useful insight into the acceptance of many of the laws around patents.

“We were pleased to see a consensus that the current FRAND licensing regime works remarkably well as is, supporting both innovation and vibrant competition. The fact that some companies are engaged in litigation about technology licenses is only natural, and not a concern as such - rather these disputes demonstrate the high value of standardised technologies,” he said.

“It is also very clear that potential clarifications to the details of FRAND licensing principles, if any, must be limited to future standards only, as the interpretation of past commitments is appropriately addressed by courts.”

The INQUIRER also contacted Samsung, Apple and RIM for comment but had received no replies at time of publication. µ


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