Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

U.S. Trade Court Asks Some Interesting Questions in Latest Apple-Samsung Case

That Apple and Samsung will get to face off in another courtroom is hardly interesting news.

What’s interesting about Monday’s International Trade Commission ruling are the questions the trade body is asking of the two tech giants, and, really, of the industry.

In agreeing to review the administrative judge’s ruling in the case, the ITC is asking the bigger questions here, including when, if at all, a product should be banned if the patents it is accused of infringing are related to an industry standard. Also, what exactly does that commitment to license patents on a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis really mean?

“Does the mere existence of a FRAND undertaking with respect to a particular patent
preclude issuance of an exclusion order based on infringement of that patent?” the trade body asked in a statement (PDF) on Monday. “Where a patent owner has offered to license a patent to an accused infringer, what framework should be used for determining whether the offer complies with a FRAND undertaking? How would a rejection of the offer by an accused infringer influence the analysis, if at all?”

Those are some mighty important questions.

The ITC, of course, will weigh the issue of whether Apple’s products actually infringe on the Samsung patents. The initial determination by the administrative law judge found that they did not.

The move comes as other courts are also trying to settle questions related to industry standard patents. In a case pitting Google’s Motorola unit against Microsoft, a Seattle federal judge is hearing testimony that could help establish what exactly constitutes fair and reasonable settlement terms.

The question was also due to come up in an Apple-Motorola case, though that matter stopped just short of reaching trial.


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