Lately, all we’ve heard about are patent wars. Mostly between Samsung, Apple, Motorola and Microsoft. Now Google was being investigated, and it turned out that Google cannot seek a ban on imports if a company infringes on their Standards-essential patents. Today the US Patent and Trademark Office along with the US Department of Justice weighed in on this debate. Both agencies released a joint statement yesterday speaking about how sales bans aren’t usually the right solution.
The USPTO does not have any power to control how these patents are used in courtrooms across the country, their insight and opinions on the subject are obviously important. The department of Justice is the executive agency charged with protecting US consumers and promoting fair competition. Now this is no surprise that the primary emphasis of the joint statement centers around the concern of patent owners using these types of patents to improperly “gain market power and potentially take advantage of it by engaging in patent hold-up.”
The goal of this joint statement is to provide the ITC and others with legal justifications needed to deny sales bans when standards-essential patents are involved. But this won’t apply in all circumstances. The 10-page statement (linked in the source link below), does not promote an absolute rule that sales bans are always unavailable. It is argued that an injunction or exclusion order may still be applicable in these cases where a potential licensee “is unable to or refuses” to take the license under FRAND terms.
So there you have it. Both the Department of Justice and the US Patent and Trademark Office views on sales bans from infringing on standards-essential patents. For those that don’t know what those kinds of patents are, they are patents that are almost necessary to be used in a product. And the manufacturer with the patent has to license it out instead of suing the company infringing or applying for a sales injunction.
Source: Joint Policy Statement [PDF]