Apple is one of several technology and car companies complaining to the European Commission over what it believes is patent abuse. The Irish Times reports that companies including Apple, Cisco, Daimler, and BMW are urging officials to take action against other companies who they believe are abusing the patent system.
Apple is one of 27 companies to have signed onto the letter, which was sent to the European Commission. The purpose of the letter is to bring awareness to companies who refuse to license “essential patents on fair terms.” In the letter, the companies say they have collectively invested more than €45 billion in research and development, and own over 200,000 patents and patent applications – but still cannot come to fair terms with certain other companies.
The letter does not specify which companies are refusing to fairly license their parents, but the Irish Times notes that the letter comes after Nokia refused to license its self-driving car components. We know that Apple is at least somewhat involved in the self-driving car industry through its secretive Project Titan initiative.
The companies argue that the lack of fair patent licensing “stifles innovation, discourages new market entry, and ties suppliers to established customers.”
“The practice of some (standard essential patent) owners to grant licences only to certain companies . . . prevents companies across the internet of things and related innovative technology industries from planning investments in R&D,” the letter said.
Furthermore, the companies call on the European Commission to take “decisive measures to ensure that European law and policy protects innovation across all industries.” What makes this situation unique, today’s report says, is the collection of companies behind the letter. The “broad allegiance” of companies “shows this is a cross-sectorial issue affecting all not only digital but wide variety of subjects”.
Apple was embroiled in its own patent royalty battle earlier this year with Qualcomm. Apple accused Qualcomm of “double dipping” with its licensing agreements, but the two companies eventually reached a settlement and agreed to drop all litigation.
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