Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski just put a ‘not-so-fast kind sir’ on AT&T’s intentions to acquire T-Mobile. Perhaps the FCC heard the growing concerns from other carriers and decided to pursue further investigation of the deal. Genachowski recently drafted up a letter to FCC commissioners arguing “the deal would significantly diminish competition and lead to massive job losses”. Sounds like this is exactly in line with Sprint’s clear stance that was voiced earlier in the year.
Not surprisingly, AT&T responded to the FCC’s actions. Senior VP of Corporate Communications Larry Solomon highlights “it is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs both”. AT&T will not doubt review the actions and defend itself all the while trying to convince the FCC that the intended merger will be no harm, no foul. The AT&T-Mobile drama just keeps unfolding. Let’s see how
the intense lobbying done by Sprint the FCC will impact this deal moving forward.
You have to hand it to Microsoft, they might not be able to sell phones, but they are going to make a lot of money off of Android. They have already inked deals with the likes of HTC, Samsung, Acer, Quanta, Wistron, General Dynamics Itronix, ViewSonic, Onkyo and Velocity Micro.
The list continues to grow as they just added original design manufacturer (ODM), Compal Electronics. This is the tenth deal for Microsoft. The deal remains unknown, but it will cover products ranging from tablets, mobile phones, e-readers, and other consumer devices running Android or Google’s Chrome platform.
It should be a nice chunk of change for Microsoft because Compal earns over $28 billion annually.
News came out yesterday that Samsung might have designed the Galaxy Nexus in such a way that it would avoid patent infringements against Apple. Samsung Mobile president Shin Jong-kyun said the company “will avoid everything we can” and that they “take patents very seriously,” but there was no guarantee that the Galaxy Nexus wouldn’t be subject to any litigation. He went on to say “We will see if (the new phone) will be 100 percent free.”
Those comments seem to vague to me to take the impression that they definitely worked hard in avoiding patents, and later Samsung’s head of mobile global product strategy, Won-Pyo Hong, denied it. Hong said, “That wasn’t really part of our discussions when designing the device.” He went on to say, “I don’t know where the rumor came from.” He apparently was not aware of the early comments by Shin Jong-kyun.
Whatever Samsung did with the Galaxy Nexus, I highly doubt the bitter war between Samsung and Apple will end now, so expect suits involving the device.
Well isn’t this is interesting. We reported the other day that Apple was successful in getting the Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned in Germany, but it looks like there are some loopholes. It turns out that though Samsung Germany can no longer sell or advertise the Tab 10.1, this doesn’t apply to everyone else. This means that other retailers do not have to remove the device from their shelves and can continue to sell them. They will also be able to replenish their stock as long as the devices aren’t purchased through Samsung’s German branch. While this still poses a bit of a pain to reroute shipments from somewhere else, a retailer like Media Markt is simply rerouting their shipments from the Netherlands. So close, but still so far Apple. Nice try though. What do you all think about this?
The U.S. patent system will get its first major overhaul in 60 years. The senate voted 89-9 in approval of the America Invents Act, and President Obama said in his speech last night, “Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of action we need.”
The goal is for streamlining the patent process, reduce costly legal battles, and provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the funding it needs to process patent applications faster.
The United States is switching from the “first-to-invent” system to the “first-inventor-to-file” system which puts us in line with other industrialized countries.
Small investors are concerned as they feel they will now be at a disadvantage with big corporations. Supporters are concerned with costly lawsuits in which companies are arguing and trying to prove who the first inventor is.
Back in August, A Dusseldorf issued a preliminary injunction on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It was originally for all of Europe (minus the Netherlands), but later changed to just Germany.
Today, the same court upheld that injunction which means the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is banned from any sales in the country. Presiding Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann said the following when delivering the verdict:
“The court is of the opinion that Apple’s minimalistic design isn’t the only technical solution to make a tablet computer, other designs are possible. For the informed customer there remains the predominant overall impression that the device looks like the design Apple has protected in Europe.”
The judge said the court didn’t compare the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the actual iPad, but instead focused on a design Apple filed with the European Union intellectual property agency in Spain.
A few months ago, Microsoft was able to cut a deal with HTC grabbing $5 per device sold. We know Microsoft can’t make any money selling their own devices so they figured they would steal it from others. It’s kind of like taxing the rich and giving it to the poor. Microsoft is far from poor, but their sales of Windows phone is.
Microsoft just announced they now have licensing deals in place with Acer and Viewsonic. We do not know the terms, but much like the HTC deal, it will continue the trend that Microsoft will earn more money through licensing deals than sales of their own devices.
The major quote in both press releases is the following:
“We are pleased that [Acer/Viewsonic] is taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. “This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.”
We can expect that as part of these deals, and future deals, that manufacturers will be forced to produce Windows devices. This is why Google bought Motorola. They needed to get control of the manufacturing process because it is unknown how any of these lawsuits will end.
There is no question the patent wars plaguing the smartphone and tablet industry is out of control. Verizon’s chief counsel, Randal Milch is now asking President Obama to step in. He wants a blanket statement from the President making clear that he would not allow any decision blocking imports of consumer wireless devices. He would rather see the parties enter into a license agreement.
The real question is if the President has the authority? It happens to be one peculiarity of the ITC that allows rulings to be waived by the President.
Unfortunately Verizon’s perspective is to provide new phones and tablets, and the blocking of imports hinders that. They want everything to be settled with licensing fees, but that is not the solution either. Licensing fees add to the costs and slows innovation. The real problem is the patent system. Patents are given out for just about anything, and the entire system needs to be overhauled.
Ultimately Milch’s request is a start. It could help burst the patent bubble so we can get back to pure innovation.
Earlier today we reported that a Netherlands Judge ruled that Samsung infringed Apple patent EP 2,058,868, and therefore banned the sale of the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and the Galaxy Ace.
Samsung made the following statement afterwards:
“Today’s ruling is an affirmation that the Galaxy range of products is innovative and distinctive. With regard to the single infringement cited in the ruling, we will take all possible measures including legal action to ensure that there is no disruption in the availability of our Galaxy smartphones to Dutch consumers.
“This ruling is not expected to affect sales in other European markets”
Later they made a second statement pointing out that the judge rejected 9 out of the 10 complaints Apple made against the Galaxy line (including tablets):
A few weeks ago we reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was going to investigate the pending sale of over 6,000 Nortel patents to a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft. If approved, the deal would be completed sometime during this quarter.
Keith Bergelt, CEO of the Open Invention Network is asking for help. He wants developers and users to step up to the plate and share their views with the DOJ with the hopes that the sale will be denied or altered. The Open Invention Network was formed in 2005 to promote Linux by using patents to create a collaborative environment. These patents are available royalty-free to any company, and is currently backed by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony.