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EU warns Nokia not to become a "patent troll"

Nokia smartphone

By Barry Collins

Posted on 9 Dec 2013 at 13:57

The vice president of the European Commission's Competition unit has warned Nokia not to become a "patent troll".

The blunt warning came in a wide-ranging speech which referred to a number of technology patent cases, including those involving Samsung and Google.

Joaquín Almunia's strongest language was reserved for Nokia, which is in the process of selling its devices business to Microsoft, giving rise to fears that the remaining part of Nokia will make more aggressive use of its patents portfolio.

If Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case

Almunia said that the commission had dismissed the possibility that "Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll" when it cleared the way for Microsoft to acquire Nokia's devices division – but warned that "if Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case."

"I sincerely hope we will not have to," said Almunia.

Google warning

Almunia also said the Commission was pressuring Google to stop punishing companies who don't pay to use its specialised search services - such as Shopping - in its organic search results.

"Google creates a link between getting the right to use material from other sites on its specialised search services and the appearance that these sites have on Google's general search results – a practice that allows Google to benefit from investments made by other firms," said Almunia.

"I have asked Google to sever this link to restore competitive incentives."

Almunia noted that website publishers are growing increasingly exasperated with the way Google exploits their content. "Recently several European publishers have asked us to go further and put in place mechanisms that would allow them to tell Google exactly how it can use their content – which they claim to be IP protected," he added.

"The reasons for their demands are not difficult to understand, but it is important to realise that competition-law tools have their limits. They cannot be a panacea for issues that relate solely to the nature of IP protection."

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User comments

Does that mean that MS will get a refund for some of the money they paid?

By JamesD29 on 9 Dec 2013

Really?

So the luxury of 'defending' their patent portfolio is only reserved for Apple - the largest patent troll in the world??

By everton2004 on 9 Dec 2013

The EU strikes again

I wonder what sort of clueless muppets are employed by this undemocratic waste of space. If Nokia own patents they feel others are infringing, presumably they will take the case to court to let them decide. In what was is this "illegal"? In certain countries (US for example) knowingly failing to defend your IP position is viewed as tantamount to allowing the IP rights to lapse. I understand some people find certain aspects of what companies can patent as being unfair, but that is an issue with the system in place, not the companies filing the IP.

By russell_g on 9 Dec 2013

Wow.

just wow.. companies no matter how big should have the right to protect there technologies and ideas.

By scottbob9 on 9 Dec 2013

??

Nokia and MS, typically, do like to play fair with others. Just look at the cash MS makes from Android...

By rhythm on 9 Dec 2013

@JamesD29 I think the EU are directing their stupid comments to what is left of Nokia, not to Microsoft.

By Philip on 9 Dec 2013

Patent Legislation

If only there were some big multinational entity which could change the (software) patent laws...

Or would that mean that the patent lawyers and the patent courts would be out of business? Who else benefits from this system, really?!

By diudaudou on 10 Dec 2013

@rhythm

There is a difference between licensing your patent portfolio on reasonable terms - Microsoft make some money for the technologies they invented, when Android manufacturers use it.

The same goes for some of Nokia's patents. Many are covered under FRAND agreements.

The problem is when talks fail and it resorts to courts. When Nokia was making and selling their own hardware, they could claim that the others were using their patents without paying and weakening Nokia's market share, by using those patents.

As a non-producing entity, they can't use this 'excuse' for trying to ban products. The case against htc is a case in point, they failed to agree terms, so htc's products are being banned from the UK.

The problem is, we don't know what the terms were, or whether there were terms discussed. We only know, that Nokia sought to ban HTC products.

Had they made a fair offer, which htc refused, or did they make an unrealistic offer, to try and keep htc out of the market, in the hope of boosting their own sales?

By big_D on 10 Dec 2013

@Philip

MS is getting the Nokia phone business at a knock down price. They could have picked the patents up at below their market value too. The best reason not to is to allow Nokia to harass MS phone competitors without any of the negative publicity being associated with MS.

By JamesD29 on 10 Dec 2013

Patents and Trademarks

Recently I was part of a trademark "war" I run a company that produces a Linux distribution called Black Lab Linux. We used to be called OS/4

http://www.os4online.com

We ended up as most companies do trying to trademark our name, OS/4 OpenLinux and we had a lot of issues. OpenLinux apparantly was an issue with the USPTO with them citing prior usage among other things because we had one person opposing it. Even though the trademark had been dead for 5 years. Now we could have fought it but by being a smaller company the legal expense of the whole thing was incredibly draining. In the end I wound up calling it, Black Lab Linux and went a different route. The system definitely needs a reform.

By RobertJDohnert on 10 Dec 2013

Patents and Trademarks

Recently I was part of a trademark "war" I run a company that produces a Linux distribution called Black Lab Linux. We used to be called OS/4

http://www.os4online.com

We ended up as most companies do trying to trademark our name, OS/4 OpenLinux and we had a lot of issues. OpenLinux apparantly was an issue with the USPTO with them citing prior usage among other things because we had one person opposing it. Even though the trademark had been dead for 5 years. Now we could have fought it but by being a smaller company the legal expense of the whole thing was incredibly draining. In the end I wound up calling it, Black Lab Linux and went a different route. The system definitely needs a reform.

By RobertJDohnert on 10 Dec 2013

Patents and Trademarks

Recently I was part of a trademark "war" I run a company that produces a Linux distribution called Black Lab Linux. We used to be called OS/4

http://www.os4online.com

We ended up as most companies do trying to trademark our name, OS/4 OpenLinux and we had a lot of issues. OpenLinux apparantly was an issue with the USPTO with them citing prior usage among other things because we had one person opposing it. Even though the trademark had been dead for 5 years. Now we could have fought it but by being a smaller company the legal expense of the whole thing was incredibly draining. In the end I wound up calling it, Black Lab Linux and went a different route. The system definitely needs a reform.

By RobertJDohnert on 10 Dec 2013

This is about anti-trust

Part of allowing Microsoft (who own many major patents) to buy Nokia's phone business was the need to prevent abuse of the possible monopoly created by the accumulation of Nokia's patents with those of Microsoft. If Nokia were to start suing Samsung, Motorla etc. as a proxy of Microsoft, it would not be good for competition.

By milliganp on 10 Dec 2013

Multiple Posts

Could someone from PCPro remove at least 2 of RobertJDohnert's adverts for his Linux ditribution.

By milliganp on 11 Dec 2013

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