• HBO’s Confederate

    There is discussion of the HBO show Confederate, an alternate history, which places slavery as a present-day institution in America.On November 22, 1960, MacKinlay Kantor published an alternate history in LOOK titled If the South Had Won the Civil War,…

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  • Ninth Circuit Confirms Willfulness is Required to Award Profits in Trademark Cases

    As Stone Creek deepens the divide among circuits, the issue of whether willfulness is required for disgorgement of a defendant’s profits in trademark cases is ripe for Supreme Court review… The Stone Creek decision solidifies the Ninth Circuit’s position that willfulness is required for a recovery of profits in trademark cases. This approach is consistent with equitable principles because disgorgement is generally used to deter culpable behavior and deterrence would not be necessary, and…

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  • Yet another article on the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone

    An extra-terrestrial alien visiting Earth in 2007 and returning, now, one decade later, might, at first glance, notice little difference in smartphones between times. For example, most-recent iPhone models superficially appear very similar to their predecessors including the first iPhone model in 2007. The external designs have remained fundamentally much the same including thin form factors, rounded corners and relatively large displays (with multi-touch operation) in comparison to featurephones.

                                                        Spot the difference


                               iPhone (2007)

    However, superficial appearances are very misleading: technological capabilities in mobile phones have improved massively with numerous valuable innovations from various contributors over the last decade, as did capabilities over the preceding couple of decades since the introduction of the first cellular “bricks” in the mid 1980s.

    Another major milestone in cellular technology developments towards 5G

    Recent new technology deployments with Gigabit LTE at Telstra in Australia, Sprint in the US and EE in the UK highlight how much cellular communications technologies have improved since the introduction of mobile data services with circuit-switched and then packet-switched offerings from around 20 years ago. Peak and average user data speeds on cellular networks have increased by a factor of 10,000 over 20 years. By way of comparison, microprocessor performance doubling every couple of years, as predicted by Moore’s Law, has increased only one thousand-fold over that period. Cellular performance improvements are therefore quite spectacular given the vagaries of connecting through the ether up to hundreds of metres, as well as processing those signals in the confines of around one square centimetre of baseband processor silicon!

    2016 iPhone 7 is 1,000 times faster than the 2007 model


    Whereas Apple has done an outstanding job in improving its iPhones in various ways and in motivating its customers to upgrade to later models, it is significantly dependent on other companies for many technical innovations that it includes in its devices.

    While marketing departments and the press look for eye-catching new features on specific device models that might surge demand for the latter, it is relentless standards development work with innovations and performance improvements in cellular technologies to increase speeds, network capacity and reduce power consumption that provide the crucial underpinnings for these ––particularly for HD, 4K or even 8K video that sends or receives very large volumes of data over the mobile networks.

    Inspiration and perspiration

    Development work for this including 4G and 5G technologies is largely undertaken by a hard core of several major technology-developing firms. Research on attendance records of all the 3GPP working group meetings between 2005 and 2014 reveals that a few highly-active firms are largely responsible for the technical developments in that standards development organisation. Over this period, a total of 3,452,040 man hours were spent in 825 working group meetings, mostly in the development of 3G and 4G standards. Distribution of contributions to 3GPP is highly skewed, with a few firms submitting the vast majority. For example, the top two percent of firms (i.e. 9 of them) are responsible for submitting 60 percent of all contributions. Furthermore, approximately one-third of all participating firms (i.e. 161 of them) have not submitted a single contribution to 3GPP.

    However, most of the activity in the public records of standards development organisation 3GPP is the mere tip of the iceberg in terms of the total amount of development work undertaken, with even more extensive other activities submerged from public view.

    As I noted in a report on innovation and intellectual property protection, it is a popular misconception that innovation is random or serendipitous. In fact, it takes many ideas to find a few initiatives worth experimenting with, which may then enable some to be identified that are worth investing in significantly and might ultimately lead to a winner or two with sufficient development effort and investment. This work is largely undertaken outside of SDO meetings.

    The numbers of patents and patent applications declared to the ETSI IPR database as possibly being essential to these cellular standards are also very skewed. A small number of mostly the same companies as above account for a large proportion of patent declarations. When I last checked, seven companies including Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung accounted for 70 percent of the many thousands of patents declared in the period 2008 to mid 2015.

    Value for money in cellular patent licensing


    Licensing fees paid in the smartphone industry are substantially for standard-essential patents and in some cases for non-SEPs. Total patent licensing costs for Apple and other smartphone OEMs at around only a few percent of revenues are good value given the development efforts and performance improvements delivered by technology developers.


    Licensing fees pale in comparison to the profits generated by Apple. The original iPhone was introduced in June 2007 at a price of $599 in the US. This and subsequent iPhone models have generated very large profit margins, as illustrated by the difference between retail prices and manufacturing costs.


    Substantial mark ups and profits to Apple on iPhone

    2007

    2011

    2016

    Model

    Standard/technology

    2G EDGE

    3G HSPA

    4G LTE- Advanced

    Version (storage)

    8GB

    16GB

    32GB

    Full retail price*

    $599.00

    $649.00

    $649.00

    BoM cost*

    $222.55

    $178.82

    $246.91

    Markup ($)

    $376.45

    $470.18

    $402.09

    Markup (%)

    169%

    263%

    163%

    * Source: TechInsights/Portelligent

    According to Strategy Analytics, Apple sold 231 million iPhones with an operating profit (i.e. after some other operational costs) averaging $239 per phone in 2015. That represents 36 percent of its $669 average selling price that year.

    Following the introduction of a new model every year at gradually increasing prices, “the 10th anniversary iPhone, the next model, expected to be massively redesigned and packed with state-of-the-art technology, could sell for as much as $1,200 to $1,400, according to some estimates”.

    Analysts also estimate patent licensing fees paid to Qualcomm average about $10 to $20 per iPhone. Apple has stated that Qualcomm charges it “at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined.”


    On that basis, Apple is paying a total of between $12.50 and $25.00 per iPhone in fees for licensing from all cellular patent licensors. That is equal to between two percent and four percent of iPhone prices. Licensing fees as a percentage of consumers’ total cellular expenditures over a smartphone’s approximate two-year service life, including operator service fees averaging around $40 per connection per month in the US, for example, are considerably lower.



    Happy anniversaries

    It is also ten years since I published my abovementioned report, noting as well that innovation can occur in many ways, with a variety of different business models and that fully vertically-integrated companies had become a rarity in technology industries. I stated that explicit recognition of value through licensing was increasing innovation, competition and customer choice with third-party supply of IP, in addition to that for components and manufacturing. That conclusion still holds.

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  • JPO Decides WHITNEY HOUSTON Trademark is Descriptive When Used on Music Recordings

    At an initial examination proceeding, JPO examiner refused the trademark with respect to all goods in class 9 on the grounds that consumers can easily perceive or conceive the late Whitney Houston, an American famous singer from the applied mark “WHITNEY HOUSTON” written in a common font design. Besides, in a business to deal with music recordings, the title of a song or an album as well as name of performer or player are routinely indicated on goods or packages to show contents of it….

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  • COMFORT

                            目次はこちら

    COMFORT

    $$ This can be a comfort for the user. / これはユーザに対する快適性であることができる。(USP8336542)

    $$ Another problem re…

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  • How PTO Submissions Can Waive Privilege to Future Communications – Even for Trial Counsel and Subsequent Patent Owners

    In re OptiumInsight (Federal Circuit 2017) The Federal Circuit has denied OptumInsight’s petition for writ of mandamus on privilege waiver. In the underlying litigation, OptumInsight has sued Cave Consulting for infringement of several healthcare analytics patents.  One of the originally asserted patents – U.S. Patent No. 5,835,897 – was developed by Symmetry Health Data Systems who later merged with Optum. (In […]

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  • Updates on Compulsory Licensing, Punitive Damages, Unwired Planet

    1.  This past Monday I published a post titled German Court Affirms Preliminary Grant of Compulsory License for HIV DrugWe still are awaiting the release of the BGH’s judgment in this case (all we have for now is a press release), but the June 2017 issue of GRUR has a brief discussion of the August 2016 judgment of the Bundespatentgericht in an article by Ingrid Kopacek and Wolfgang Morawek titled Aus der Rechtsprechung des BPatG im Jahr 2016:  Teil II:  Patent Recht und Gebrauchsmusterrecht (“From the Case Law of the Bundespatentgericht in 2016, Part 2:  Patent and Utility Model Law”).  See pp. 545-57, see in particular pp. 555-56.  Also of possible interest, although it doesn’t discuss the recent German case, is an article by Hugh Dunlop titled Compulsory Licensing under a Unitary Patent, 39 EIPR 393 (2017).  Here is the abstract:
    Expectations are high that the European Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court will get off the ground very soon. The new court will have jurisdiction over unitary patents (and “traditional” patents granted under the EPC that are not opted-out) for actions in relation to patent infringement and licences of right, but compulsory licences are supposed to be left to national courts. This article explores whether this assumption may be challenged and, even if it stands, whether national courts may take an EU-wide view of compulsory licences under unitary patents.
    2.  Also this week, Norman Siebrasse published another post on Airbus v. Bell (see my previous post here, which links to Professor Siebrasse’s other posts on this case), this one discussing in greater depth the issue of determining the quantum of punitive damages in patent cases.   As Professor Siebrasse notes, the rationales for awarding punitive damages under Canadian law are retribution, deterrence, and denunciation–a trio that dates back to an 18th century English case, Wilkes v. Wood, as cited in the 2002 Canadian Supreme Court decision in Whiten–but the only one of these that provides any real guidance with regard to quantification, if only in an imperfect sense, is deterrence:  
    The difficulty with this principled scheme, as I see it, is that it actually provides very little guidance in assessing quantum. Quantum must in the end be expressed as a number. Deterrence, as discussed below, naturally lends itself to quantification, but the siblings of denunciation and deterrence communicate moral values and judgments, which are by the nature almost impossible to quantify.
    Highly recommended, and not just for patent aficionados. 
    3.  I should also note that Professor Peter Picht’s paper Unwired Planet/Huawei: A Seminal SEP/FRAND Decision From the UK, which I previously mentioned on the blog here, has been published in the July 2017 issue of GRUR Int (pp. 569-79).  Here is a link, and here again is the abstract:
    With its decision in Unwired Planet (UWP) v. Huawei, Birrs J has not only handed down the first major ruling on SEP/FRAND issues in England but also decided a case that poses a number of questions which are key for this area of the law. Well aware of this, he has drafted a thorough and extensive opinion that is likely to have considerable impact – not only – on the development of EC law. Inter alia, the decision discusses the legal nature of an ETSI FRAND declaration; the question whether “FRAND” is a range or a single set of licensing conditions; the procedural component of FRAND; the existence of a qualified “unFRANDliness”-threshold below which competition law is not triggered; the sequencing of negotiation and litigation over FRAND licences; hard-edged vs. soft-edged discrimination; the role of “Comparables” for calculating FRAND; and the anti-competitiveness of offering a mixed portfolio of SEPs and non-SEPs.
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  • Assertion Risk Mitigation Opportunity Through Patent Acquisition

    In this post, we’ll analyze LinkedIn’s patent acquisition process and the results of its targeted buying program. While the increase in LinkedIn’s filings helped to grow the total patent portfolio, challenges remain. First, while organic filings tend to focus on LinkedIn’s core technology and therefore help a great deal with counter-assertion against potential competitors, they are less helpful when it comes to large corporate asserters further outside LinkedIn’s core technology area. Second,…

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