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Monday, 09 July 2012 08:58

UN gets involved with Patent Wars

Written by Nick Farrell



This is getting silly


Fresh from its success at sorting out the Syrian crisis, the UN is looking at ways to patent trolling amongst the world's IT outfits.

It seems that blue hatted soldiers will patrol IT companies to prevent rampant trollage and shoot the first company that welds a patent against another. Sadly, while this would be the most effective, the UN has just called together smartphone makers and others mobile industry to talks in October.

The UN feels that the "innovation-stifling use of intellectual property" has reached the poitn where  to several devices being banned from sale and enough is enough. It wants innovations deemed essential to industry standards, such as 3G or photos to be left alone. The UN said that if just one patent holder demanded unreasonable compensation the cost of a device could "skyrocket".

Both Microsoft, Apple and Google are among firms that have called on others not to enforce sales bans on the basis of such standards-essential patents. Companies are supposed to license standards-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The patent-holder cannot discriminate who gets to use its invention and that the cost cannot be excessive.

Apple forced Samsung's Nexus phone off the shelves because both that the parties involved differed over what they believed to be a reasonable charge. The UN did not think that they should be  allowed to seek legal injunctions to block shipments if they failed to agree terms.

The UN International Telecom Union secretary general Dr Hamadoun Torre said that the UN was seeing an unwelcome trend in today's marketplace to use standards-essential patents to block markets. He said there needed to be an urgent review of this situation: patents are meant to encourage innovation, not stifle it.


Nick Farrell

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