How to define and differentiate patent assertion entities, non-practicing entities or patent trolls? A new typology gives answers!

Patent trolls have many faces, since the media uses this expression in various ways. The patent troll phenomenon thus seems to be an ambiguous term that is discussed in several directions. A recently published article on the typology of the patent troll business reveals that a patent troll as such has no distinct shape or appearance. The analysis redeems a troll classification solely from firms’ market position, such as being nonpracticing, and shows that a patent troll business can only be defined by the respective practice to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR). Using 10 case studies, of which five are treated in detail, the analysis reveals a distinct typology of IPR enforcement mechanisms and suggests a framework to assess the troll business and its effects. This paper furthermore identifies the nature of troll behavior to be: (a) a practice to enforce IP rights enabling repayments for earlier innovation investments and (b) a strategy that may create costs to affected industries. The differentiated troll analysis reveals negative but also positive effects of the troll business on incentives to innovate.

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Exploring the effect of IPR on Egypt’s ICT sector

Our competence team, Professor Knut Blind (TU Berlin / Fraunhofer FOKUS), Dr. Sacha Wunsch-Vincent (WIPO) and Dr. Tim Pohlmann (TU Berlin / MINES ParisTech) just returned from a very successful mission to Cairo, Egypt. The goal of the mission was to meet with local authorities, companies, start-ups or Universities and discuss how Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) influence Egypt’s ICT (Information and Communication Technology) industry. Egypt already has numerous programs to fund innovative programs such as University-Industry collaborations, training of young students or funding of start-up projects. Our mission showed that Egypt has a high number of talented and well educated young citizen that have good language skills, qualified University degrees and a very innovative mind.

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ITU discusses on Standard Essential Patents

The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) has for the first time organized a public event to discuss the tensions on the interplay of IPR and standards. The ITU is a UN agency which is among other standard projects responsible for the H.264 video coding standard (MPEG4). The ITU invited all interested parties, mostly from the ICT industry (Apple, Motorola Mobility, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Ericsson, etc.) but also from international organizations (EPO, USPTO, WIPO, EC, DOJ or FTC) and academia (Knut Blind, Tim Pohlmann, Rudi Bekkers and Robert Barr) to discuss recent disputes on SEPs (standard essential patents) and F/RAND licensing. In light of recent litigation on SEPs (Apple vs. Samsung, Motorola vs. Microsoft and Motorola vs. Apple) the main topic of the conference was to discuss if the F/RAND licensing of SEPs is a broken system.

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Seminar on Technology Markets, Patent Pools and Standards

The Chair of Innovation Economics at the Technical University of Berlin is hosting a special seminar on Technology Markets, Patent Pools and Standards which will be held Thursday August 30th, 2012 (15:30-17:00), VWS Schleuseninsel, Müller-Breslau Strasse 15, Berlin, Room 128. The seminar takes place subsequent to the doctoral defence of Tim Pohlmann on Patenting and Coordination in ICT Standardization: Empirical Analyses of Essential Patents, Patent Pools, and Standards Consortia, which will be held 12:00 the same day. Please find below further information on the three lecturers and their topics. We are looking forward to your participation.

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Chair of Innovation Economics response to the UK Open Standards consultation

The TUB Chair of Innovation Economics has responded to the United Kingdom Open Standards Consultation. On February 9th the British Cabinet Office opened a formal consultation on the definition and mandation of open standards for software interoperability such as data and document formats in government IT. The British government therefore encouraged all interested stakeholders to share their opinions and views on a set of given questions. The motivation of the consultation was improve access to government IT contracts to reduce the government’s IT costs, increase market diversity and thus generate a level-playing field for all market participants. Therefore interested parties were invited to write a response including views on questions in the fields of: Criteria for Open Standards, Open Standards Mandation and Internal Alignment. Please find below all questions and the response of the Chair of Innovation Economics to the UK Open Standards consultation.

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Apple reacts to Motorola’s injunction on essential patents! A new chapter of Antitrust and Standard Setting?

As to a statement of a Munich based patent attorney Florian Müller, Apple has reacted to Motorola’s injunction of GSM standard essential patents. Even though Motorola today won an injunction that is related to the iCloud’s data push function, some signs point to the ruling of a different case (from early December) on standard essential patents. Just  Tuesday (Jan 31st) the European Commission announced (in a press release) to investigate if Samsung has failed to honor its irrevocable commitment to license any standard essential patent under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Motorola has committed to license under exactly these same rules when it declared the patent to be essential to ETSI’s GSM standard seven years ago. Just last night Apples has removed all GSM compliant products which include the UMTS capable iPad and all iPhones (not the iPhone 4Gs). It is now to question if Apple failed to raise FRAND commitment as a defense against Motorola? And if Motorola will soon be the next company on the Commission’s radar?

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EC Opens Antitrust Investigation on Samsung

Just yesterday (January 31st) the European Commission announced in a press release to open a formal investigation on Samsung’s filed injunctions on standard essential patents. Samsung made injunctions against a number of competitors, among others Apple Inc. The Commission now turns the antitrust lens on Samsung to analyze whether these injunctions themselves are in breach of competition law. In particular it has to be investigated if Samsung has failed to honor its irrevocable commitment to license any standard essential patent under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. It has to be examined if Samsung’s behavior is an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

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