Union Moves To End Smartphone Patent Wars
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[April 29, 2014]
By John O'Donnell
BRUSSELS (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.
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
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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.
(Reporting by John O'Donnell; additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski;
editing by Larry King)
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