EU to end smart­phone patent wars

Daily Trust - - REUTERS -

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion moved on Tues­day to stem ag­gres­sive patent law­suits by smart­phone and tablet mak­ers against ri­vals, rul­ing that Mo­torola Mo­bil­ity had bro­ken EU law by tak­ing such ac­tion against Ap­ple.

In a dual rul­ing, the Euro­pean Union’s anti-trust en­forcer said that it had also ac­cepted a pledge by Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics not to seek in­junc­tions against ri­vals if they had signed up to a li­cens­ing agree­ment for smart­phones or tablets.

The land­mark rul­ing will help draw a line un­der a long-run­ning feud be­tween smart­phone mak­ers and a slew of le­gal ac­tion against ri­vals by man­u­fac­tur­ers who claimed they had copied their de­signs.

No fine will be im­posed on Google Inc’s Mo­torola. Case law on the point was un­clear.

The Com­mis­sion ruled nonethe­less that it was abu­sive for Mo­torola to seek an in­junc­tion against Ap­ple in Ger­many on the ba­sis of a ‘stan­dard-es­sen­tial’ patent it had com­mit­ted to li­cense. Ap­ple had agreed to buy a li­cense and pay roy­al­ties.

It or­dered Mo­torola to re­solve its dis­pute with Ap­ple through ar­bi­tra­tion, with­out le­gal ac­tion.

“The so-called smart­phone patent wars should not oc­cur at the ex­pense of con­sumers,” said Joaquin Al­mu­nia, the Euro­pean com­mis­sioner in charge of an­titrust en­force­ment.

“While patent hold­ers should be fairly re­mu­ner­ated for the use of their in­tel­lec­tual property, im­ple­menters of such stan­dards should also get ac­cess to stan­dard­ized tech­nol­ogy on fair, rea­son­able and nondis­crim­i­na­tory terms.”

The patent wars be­tween tech com­pa­nies, which also in­clude Mi­crosoft, Nokia and smaller ri­vals, un­der­score the fierce bat­tle for mar­ket share in the lu­cra­tive mo­bile phone in­dus­try.

The world’s top smart­phone mak­ers, Sam­sung and Ap­ple, are su­ing each other in more than 10 coun­tries.

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