Update: While the meeting apparently didn’t result in any resolution, ZDnet reports the ITU’s Malcolm Johnson said the ‘heated debate’ “has gone a long way to help clarify the positions” of the companies involved:
“Today’s event has gone a long way to help clarify the positions of various stakeholders in determining the effectiveness of FRAND commitments and the impact of litigations surround standards-essential patents,”
ZDnet also reported Motorola argued “Apple was misunderstanding the way FRAND works in the telecoms industry”:
“For 20 years the [FRAND] licensing commitments made by innovators in the communications industry have been sufficient,” Warren said. “Past experience would indicate that [FRAND] has been effective… but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement to improve the present situation.”
The world’s biggest tech companies are meeting today for a Patent Roundtable with the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union to “assess the effectiveness of RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) – based patent policies.” The meeting will take place at the ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland; and according to several reports, it will include Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Google, Microsoft, and many of the industry’s other biggest players. The discussions follow high-profile, patent-related cases and failed settlement talks between Samsung and Apple, while the European Union continues to probe Motorola, Samsung, and others over potential abuse of the patent system. It also comes as Google’s legal chief David Drummond issued statements to the press calling for a reform on software patents.
A report from BBC noted others attending the roundtable include: Qualcomm, Cisco, Research in Motion, Intel, Philips, Huawei, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard. BBC also provided statements from the companies that submitted pre-event arguments (below).
According to the ITU, the meeting will have the following objective:
This Roundtable will assess the effectiveness of RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) – based patent policies. The purpose of this initiative is to provide a neutral venue for industry, standards bodies and regulators to exchange innovative ideas that can guide future discussions on whether current patent policies and existing industry practices adequately respond to the needs of the various stakeholders.
Apple will be sending BJ Watrous, its vice president for Intellectual Property and Licensing. Watrous, who is scheduled to speak between 11:30 and 12:30, handles the company’s IP portfolio, “including IP licensing, participation in standard-setting organizations, and anti-counterfeit activities.” Others in attendance include Mark D. Seidman from the FTC’s Bureau of Competition and Senior Licensing Council with Motorola Mobility Ray Warren.
As BBC reported, many of the companies, including Apple and Microsoft, will seek changes to “rules so that products cannot be blocked on the basis of standard-essential patent disputes.” Some of the statements submitted to the ITC prior to the meeting are below:
“We have offered our view that any patent holder that promises to make its standard essential patents available on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms should do just that. That means that such patent holders should not seek to block shipments of competing products just because they implement an industry standard – a license on reasonable terms is always available,” Microsoft submitted to the ITU.
“There are situations were injunctions against unwilling licensees are a necessary remedy for intellectual property rights holders, such as a total refusal to negotiate a licence, or refusal to pay compensation determined by a competent court,” read a statement from Nokia.
“The so-called ‘patent wars’ should be seen for what they are: a small number of participants in a highly competitive industry in which change and innovation occur at lightening speed are locked in a ferocious battle to establish market positions for competing operating systems, with litigation being a marginal aspect of this contest,” read a statement from Qualcomm
BBC confirmed journalists would be allowed to listen to the initial meeting, so we will bring you updates as they happen later today.