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Software Standards and Patent Licensing
Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 02:30 PM EST

With Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility there have been a number of competitors claiming Google (Motorola) is acting unfairly in its licensing of patents related to the H.264 and 3G/UMTS standards.

Among the complaining parties are Microsoft and Apple, both of which claim that the Motorola Mobility approach to FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing under the respective standards is anything but fair and reasonable. The fight is over the fact that Motorola Mobility (and now Google) is asking a 2.25% royalty for a single patent in each of these instances.

While it is the epitome of chutzpah for Apple and Microsoft to complain about the patent licensing behavior of any other company, that does little to clarify the issues involved in patent licensing related to standards. This article will walk through those issues so we can all have a better understanding of such licensing and why different companies perceive the terms "fair and reasonable" from very different perspectives, depending on whose ox is being gored.

Who Develops and Sets The Standards

There are standards organizations all over the place (see, Standards Organizations). Some, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) operate at a high level providing a mechanism for standards adoption at an international level. There are similar organizations at the regional and national level. The work of these organizations is oftentimes political in nature, and the process can truly be ugly in practice. Just ask the folks who fought the Open Document Format / Office Open XML wars.

What we are more interested in here are the standards developing organizations, particularly those focused on information technology. Among the primary organizations in this arena are IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), although there are numerous others.

How Do Standards-Developing Bodies Work

Each of these standards-developing bodies establishes its own operating practices (bylaws) and intellectual property policies, and these practices and policies can have a profound impact on the standards setting process. Just as an example, some of the issues that may be confronted in the process include:

  • Who can participate in the standards-developing process?

  • Are participants required to disclose their patents during the standards-developing process (so others can decide whether the patented technology should be included in the standard, with full knowledge of the potential financial/technical impact)?

  • At what stage does the standards development group establish its IP licensing policy -- before starting work or at the end of the work?

  • Are all licensing approaches royalty-bearing or may they be royalty-free (thus having a bearing on whether the standard may be implemented in free and open source software)?
Those are just a few of the questions. It is worth taking a quick peek at just one such body, OASIS. OASIS membership is generally open to anyone (see, OASIS Bylaws) who is willing to pay the applicable membership fee (see, OASIS membership application [PDF]). The organization operates on democratic principles of governance.

The actual standards-developing work is undertaken in technical committees, and each technical committee is obligated to establish the intellectual property rules that will govern its work at the outset pursuant to the OASIS intellectual property rights policy. Among the more important aspects of the IPR policy are:

  • Its definitions of key terms, such as Contribution, Covered Product, Essential Claims, IPR Mode, and Licensed Product, to name a few;

  • The establishment of the IPR Mode that will govern the technical committee's work as established at the outset. The IPR Mode options are: reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND), royalty-free on RAND terms (RF-RAND or FRAND), Royalty-Free on Limited Terms (RF-LT), and Non-Assertion (NA);

  • licensing obligations for copyrights, trademarks and patents; and

  • an IPR disclosure obligation, which includes the nature and timing of the disclosure (OASIS follows the ex ante model, i.e., requiring disclosure at the time of contribution, not later at the time of adoption).

Not requiring ex ante disclosure in the standards-developing process can lead to unhappy surprises when the IPR disclosure is made after the work is done and the standard is moving to adoption, and this has clearly resulted in some unfortunate and heavily litigated standards/patent cases (see, Rambus and Qualcomm). Interestingly, the Qualcomm case involved the same H.264 standard at issue in the present argument with Google/Motorola Mobility.

Also, each standards-developing organization adopts its own licensing definitions, i.e., there is no one, established definition of what constitutes RAND, FRAND, or any other form of licensing. Here are the definitions used by OASIS:

RAND - [An Obligated Party] will grant to any OASIS Party or third party: a nonexclusive, worldwide, non-sublicensable, perpetual patent license (or an equivalent non-assertion covenant) under its Essential Claims covered by its Contribution Obligations or Participation Obligations on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms to make, have made, use, market, import, offer to sell, and sell, and to otherwise directly or indirectly distribute (a) Licensed Products that implement such OASIS Standards Final Deliverable, and (b) Licensed Products that implement any Final Maintenance Deliverable with respect to that OASIS Standards Final Deliverable.

RF-RAND or FRAND - [An Obligated Party] will grant to any OASIS Party or third party: a nonexclusive, worldwide, non-sublicensable, perpetual patent license (or an equivalent non-assertion covenant) under its Essential Claims covered by its Contribution Obligations or Participation Obligations without payment of royalties or fees, and subject to the applicable Section 10.2.2 or 10.2.3, to make, have made, use, market, import, offer to sell, and sell, and to otherwise directly or indirectly distribute (a) Licensed Products that implement such OASIS Standards Final Deliverable, and (b) Licensed Products that implement any Final Maintenance Deliverable with respect to that OASIS Standards Final Deliverable. .... [and with] license terms that are fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory ...

The H.264 Standard

The H.264 standard was developed by the video coding experts group (VCEG) of the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T). The ITU-T approach to IPR is far less disciplined than that used by OASIS. It is, for all intents and purposes, merely a guideline ('should' versus 'will' or 'must'). It encourages ex ante disclosure, but does not require it. Further, it leaves the matter of what constitutes appropriate RAND or FRAND licensing to the individual IPR holders. Consequently, any standard adopted using this approach will result in some disparity of thinking among the IPR holders as to what constitutes a "reasonable" royalty.

Royalties - How Are They Calculated And What Is "Reasonable" License fees and royalties come in a wide assortment of flavors, including:

  • One-time, up-front, fully-paid royalties;

  • Pre-paid royalties;

  • Minimum, guaranteed royalties; and

  • Running royalties for the term of the license, to name a few.

In whatever form, royalties are determined using two factors: a royalty base and a royalty rate. The royalty base is the measure of the "infringement," i.e., how much licensed product is being produced or what income is derived from the sale of licensed product. A royalty base is typically a unit of licensed product or net revenue from the sale of the licensed product. Consequently, inherent to the definition of the royalty base is what constitutes a licensed product. More on that in a bit.

The second factor in determining a royalty is the royalty rate. This is the value, most frequently either in a unit of currency or percentage, to be extracted from the royalty base as compensation. For example, where the number of widgets produced and sold is the royalty base, the royalty rate may be US$0.05 per widget. Or, where the royalty base is net revenue derived from the sale of widgets, the royalty rate may be 5% of such net revenue.

As you can see, then, there is flexibility in setting both the base and rate of the royalty, and what is reasonable is only determined when there is a meeting of the minds between the licensor and licensee and the license is entered. Prior to that event, what each of the parties perceives to be reasonable will likely be at odds with what the other party is offering.

Back to the issue of what constitutes a licensed product. Under U.S. case law there must be some association between the royalty base and the infringed patent. Thus, in software a royalty base may be the software component, the entire software application, or even the device on which the software operates, but it would be inappropriate (and undoubtedly unlawful) for a party to claim a royalty base of something even greater which is not dependent on the infringing software or the infringing device (running the software).

Let's put this in the context of the H.264 standard. It is a standard covering video compression (video codec). Thus, a reasonable royalty base may be: (a) the software component implementing the codec; (b) the larger software application incorporating that component, including an operating system; or (c) the device on which such software runs, such as a laptop or desktop computer, a tablet, an automobile information system, or a television set-top box. But to suggest, as at least one so-called "patent expert" has done, that Google-Motorola Mobility is attempting to claim a royalty on an entire automobile is either willful ignorance or purposely misleading.

Given that the definition of the royalty base can fluctuate within relevant bounds, it shouldn't be surprising that the royalty rate will typically fluctuate inversely. That is, the broader the relevant royalty base, the lower the royalty rate. I might want 10% of the revenues from the sale of a software component while being willing to take 4% of the revenues of the application incorporating the component or 2% of the device running the application. As stated before, in the end what is reasonable is that point of common ground where the licensor believes he/she is receiving fair value for the patented invention and the licensee believes the price paid is fair in relation to the cost structure of the licensed product.

The Instant Case

We started off talking about Google/Motorola Mobility's licensing practices related to certain patents that, apparently, are essential to implementation of the H.264 standard. Apple and Microsoft both complain that the 2.25% royalty that Motorola Mobility is seeking, in each case, for a single H.264-related patent is unreasonable, and that unhappiness has now extended to Google which is acquiring Motorola Mobility and which has stated that it will not alter said licensing practice. What is interesting is how these parties and their paid publicists have portrayed normative behavior in the context of standards setting and patent licensing. Consider:

  • The previously mentioned outlandish claim that Google is seeking a royalty on the entire value of an automobile that happens to include a video display system using H.264; or

  • The suggestion that the royalty rate Motorola Mobility is seeking in this instance is not fair and reasonable when compared to what Apple did with Firewire, but remember, others perceived Apple to be neither fair nor reasonable in that instance; or

  • That the royalty rate requested by Motorola is not fair, when the ITU-T provides no guidance on the patent licensing practices of contributors; or

  • In the vein of the pot calling the kettle black, the patent licensing practices pursued by Apple and Microsoft in other contexts, such as Microsoft's demand for royalties on Linux technology when it refuses to publicly disclose the patents that Linux allegedly infringes.

Companies have interests they wish to pursue, and they are generally willing to use whatever leverage is at their disposal to pursue those interests. Google has come to the conclusion that H.264 is a standard that is too patent-encumbered and not consistent with open core technologies. Is that an unreasonable position? It certainly isn't from the perspective of an open source advocate. Nor is it any more unreasonable for Google/Motorola Mobility to use its patent leverage to advance a position in opposition to H.264 than it is for Apple or Microsoft to try to kill Android using their respective patent portfolios.

Will this benefit Google? Unbiased observers are not certain, but they certainly don't begrudge Google its position.

In the end this may simply be one more skirmish in the mobile operating system wars, except cynical misrepresentations are always worth rebutting. It's clear Microsoft is having some success with its somewhat hypocritical position, as both the EU Commission and the DOJ singled out Google for further watching regarding this.

On the other hand, the USDOJ is also keeping an eye on the MPEG LA's licensing practices and how they impact Google. Also, keep in mind the tit-for-tat nature of the USDOJ approving the Microsoft-Apple-RIM acquisition of the Nortel patents. All of these things are connected.

Finally, keep an eye out for the hired guns holding themselves out as patent experts and talking about what is fair and reasonable when their real agenda is being set by those who pay them.


  


Software Standards and Patent Licensing | 282 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Thread
Authored by: bugstomper on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 02:33 PM EST
Please summarize in the Title box error->correction or s/error/correction/ to
make the list of corrections that have already been reported easy to scan. That
makes it easier for Mark and PJ to see what needs to be corrected and avoids
duplication of effort for everyone else.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks discussion Thread
Authored by: complex_number on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 02:51 PM EST
Please put a well formed link in your post.
Don't forget to change the post mode to HTML!


---
Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42" or is it 1.618?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thread
Authored by: complex_number on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 02:53 PM EST
No on topic posts please


---
Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42" or is it 1.618?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The 2.25% Question
Authored by: complex_number on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 03:03 PM EST
While this may not seem very much but remember that this is per patent.
One guestimate I've read says that there are 100+ patents in Google's Magazine.

Lets do a few sums.

Phone costing $500
2.5% of that is $12.5
100 patents @ $12.5 each

Total licensing due to Google = $1,250

Er Um... This does not compute.

ergo, Google will force every one else out of the market simply by saying...
That will be 2.5% per patent please.

So lets say that there are only 20 patents.
That still equates to $250.00 PER PHONE. 50% of the target price.
That will still give Google a monoploly position simply by using RAND terms. No
one else will be able to compete.

As much as I don't like what Apple etc are doing to each other, I think that
they and Microsoft may have something to complain about.
IANAL etc so I could be barking mad in my assumptions.

No profit for anyone in the phone biz apart from google

---
Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42" or is it 1.618?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hey, Microsoft!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 03:06 PM EST
Don't tell me what fair terms are - SHOW me!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ouch: "hired guns holding themselves out as patent experts" LOL
Authored by: SilverWave on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 04:18 PM EST
:-)



---
RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thanks for the explanation Mark - "royalty rate will typically fluctuate inversely" ah!
Authored by: SilverWave on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 04:23 PM EST
Although I still think this is mind bogglingly complex and "squishy"
Ugh!

They may as well go in for a Trial by ordeal. :-/

---
RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google's other reason for not changing this
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 04:29 PM EST
Google can easily stand and say they aren't changing anything, just continuing
existing policies.

If people switch to codecs that don't need this patent (like the ones Google is
pushing), the web becomes just a little more free

If people license the patent, they make money, they can then use that money to
fund the free codecs.

looks like a win-win for Google.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software Standards and Patent Licensing
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 05:10 PM EST
Links to demonstrate that this is about H.264 and UMTS would be useful.

Links to the EC/DOJ findings where Google/MMI is specifically put on notice
about the licensing of key patents, while saying that Apple and Motorola have
satisfied the authorities with their commitments, might help inform readers.

This may help: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-at-
210.html

SEP = "standards essential patents"
“During the course of the division’s investigation, several of the principal
competitors, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, made commitments
concerning their SEP licensing policies. The division’s concerns about the
potential anticompetitive use of SEPs was lessened by the clear commitments
by Apple and Microsoft to license SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-
discriminatory terms, as well as their commitments not to seek injunctions in
disputes involving SEPs. Google’s commitments were more ambiguous and
do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies.

“In light of the importance of this industry to consumers and the complex
issues raised by the intersection of the intellectual property rights and
antitrust law at issue here, as well as uncertainty as to the exercise of the
acquired rights, the division continues to monitor the use of SEPs in the
wireless device industry, particularly in the smartphone and computer tablet
markets. The division will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action

to stop any anticompetitive use of SEP rights.”

Next, from the EC: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?
reference=IP/12/129&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=e

n

In a separate statement the EC competition commissioner said: "Today's
decision does not mean that the merger clearance blesses all actions by
Motorola in the past or all future action by Google with regard to the use of
these standard essential patents.. I can assure you that the Commission will
take further action if warranted to ensure that the use of standard essential
patents by all players in the sector is fully compliant with EU competition law

and with the FRAND commitments given to standard setting organisations."

The obvious interpretation of that is that Google/MMI is being put on notice
that if it abuses SEPs, things will get heavy. The EC can impose fines of 10% of

global turnover. Samsung is already under an EC antitrust investigation over
the question of whether it tried to sue Apple over a FRAND-licensed patent.
(You don't seem to have covered this. Consider this a pointer.) Google might
want to avoid that.

You could also find the Scribd document where Qualcomm says that MMI is
breaking its FRAND commitments by trying to rescind Apple's use of a UMTS
patent in Qualcomm chips, as that patent is granted via FRAND to Qualcomm
and (1) by the principle of patent exhaustion Apple is licensed; (2) under
FRAND, MMI can't rescind the licence to a single third party.

So who exactly is behaving badly here? In the EC's and DOJ's eyes, it doesn't
seem to be Apple or Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, This is About H264?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 05:48 PM EST
We started off talking about Google/Motorola Mobility's licensing practices related to certain patents that, apparently, are essential to implementation of the H.264 standard.

I admit that I haven't dug into the details this conflict too closely, but I have following the general news and commentary on it elsewhere. This however, is the first time that I have heard that this was about H264. I wonder why that is? Was this little fact not able to be fitted into the "H264 is wonderful" message we hear so often from Apple fans?

I've seen endless homilies from pundits who have been telling us how H264 brings us patent certainty in an uncertain world. Now it turns out that Motorola was suing Apple over H264 patents? Apple is now complaining that H264 patent licensing terms are "unreasonable"? How can this be? Could it be possible that the H264 fans didn't know what they were talking about. Could it even be that they were (and are) misleading us about how "safe" H264 is?

I think the H264 aspect of this needs all the publicity it can get. Every time someone brings up the "H264 is safe and certain while WebM isn't", this little lawsuit should get shoved down their throats.

[ Reply to This | # ]

In 5 years?
Authored by: tqft on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 07:11 PM EST
What will Google's, MS & Apple's arguments look like in 5 years? Or 10 or 15
years.

Is this a case where Google is trying to flush out all the "arguments"
now so that when (not if) they get sued by MS & Apple or some patent, they
can turn around and say - this was your position in 2012.

2 classics tests of public policy - what does it look like as a headline and
does it make sense in 5, 10 or 20 years.

I wonder how many of the arguments from others Google has tried unsuccessfully
on MS & Apple?

---
anyone got a job good in Brisbane Australia for a problem solver? Currently
under employed in one job.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tit for Tat
Authored by: argee on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 10:45 PM EST
There is a meeting room, and Google, Apple and Microsoft are
sitting at the table.

Microsoft and Apple say: "2.25% is too much money! It will
break us! It is not RAND!"

Google rep says "You can avoid all of this nastiness if you
simply allow US to use all YOUR patents in exchange for you
using our patents. No money to change hands. But, if you
don't want to do that, and sue us over other patents, then,
please pay us the 2.25%"


---
--
argee

[ Reply to This | # ]

Perhaps this is TAT for the Microsoft/apple VP8 thing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 12:04 AM EST
Perhaps this is Google expressing their displeaser over Microsoft and Apples
efforts to create a patent pool for VP8 to start stealing $$$ for that... make
H264 more expensive too.

The weapons they have are different, but I get the feeling that Google are just
trying to show M$ and @pple that they current patent extortion they are using
against Android and Chrome has repercussions and that it isn't helping anyone.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hidden agendas and the Saint Florian Principle
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 01:24 AM EST
When reading PJ's note on experts I can't help but notice this from Wikipedia about a common phrase in German speaking countries:
The "Florian Principle" [...] is named after a somewhat ironic "prayer" to Saint Florian: "O holy Saint Florian, spare my house, kindle others".
Seems to be a perfect fit in our patent cases. Even in more than a single way when it comes to the english translation. Amazon's next?!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Challenge To The Players
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 02:19 AM EST
So the various players in this saga seem to spend their time praising their own
saintliness and rubbishing the competition in equal measure - with, as the
article points out, no shortage of paid shills to work for them.

So here's a suggestion to the 'holier than thou' lot of them:

If you really are serious about the reasonableness of your position, then you
will of course be inclusive of *all* parties who may wish access to your
patented technology. That inclusiveness implicitly covers software written under
FOSS terms, specifically the GNU Public License.

So to demonstrate and underscore your commitment, simply come out with a 'Patent
Pledge": that no licenses or fees will be levied against any use of
patented inventions under those licenses where the derived code is given away
free.

Where software producers wish to charge fees for their product, then the patent
holders have a right to ask for license monies. Where the software is given away
free, they do not. Achieve this by agree that licenses will be a % of revenue
earned.

For those cases where software is 'embedded' or 'bundled' with devices, this
further opens up the marketplace. Companies who offer their products in what we
could describe as a 'pre-jailbroken' form - i.e. one in which the user can
choose to install or amend their own software, for example - then the 'hardware'
and 'software' can be licensed separately. This would enable suppliers to enable
potential clients to make patent licensing decisions for themselves.

A reasonably close analogy would be say the ubuntu Linux distribution, which
ships and installs without proprietary drivers, but which seamlessly allows
users to add them should they wish - with a warning that tells the user what
they are doing.


All I've described here is an evolution of the patent pledge that IBM made a
while back, when they said that a huge arsenal of their software patents would
never be used against the Free Software Community. I know we would have liked
them to rescind the lot, but the truth is they kept them as a defensive shield
from the more unscrupulous companies out there.


The most vociferous advocates of software patents like to talk up the thought
that they are not using them to restrict access to technology.

So my challenge to you is simple: prove it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This discussion is illegal
Authored by: Ian Al on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 04:46 AM EST
Even though the ITU is the United Nations international body that sets
telecommunications standards for governments that are members of the UN, the
standards, themselves, have no legal force. The ITU does own copyrights on the
documented recommendations that are legally protected and printed versions are
expensive.

Governments and companies may make international, national (or any other)
standards a condition of purchase. Contract law prevails.

The ITU-T Recommendation, H.264 is just that; a recommendation. If someone sells
something as complying with Recommendation H.264 when it isn't, then the
purchaser has the option of suing for misrepresentation of sold goods. Neither
the ITU, nor the Government will be a party to that.

Governments may legislate on the use of international or national standards as
in the case of civil engineering and power distribution. It is the legislation
that controls and not the provisions of the standard.

The recommended standard comes with recommended terms for anything legally
protected that forms a part of the standard. There is nothing legally preventing
the owners of the legally protected something, such as a patent, extorting a
non-free and unreasonable fee for the use of the legally protected something.

Companies caught in such a situation are entitled to bleat that the patent owner
is being mean to them. Taking 'being a meany' to a judge is a waste of time,
unless the meanness is legally an anti-trust or anti-competition issue. I'm
surprised that Microsoft don't know this: they are the world authority on
anti-trust activity.

---
Regards
Ian Al
Software Patents: It's the disclosed functions in the patent, stupid!

[ Reply to This | # ]

If Apple and MS are crying foul, we need to listen.
Authored by: mcinsand on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 09:06 AM EST
After all, who could be better experts at being Unfair than our buddies in
Redmond and Cupertino?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Comes transcriptions go here
Authored by: qubit on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 09:40 AM EST
(I didn't see an existing Comes thread, so I figured I'd start one...)

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • E1392 - Authored by: qubit on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 09:42 AM EST
Apple has patents too
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 01:55 PM EST
Apple has 140+ patents on 3G alone. These are standards essential - just
like the single 3G patents Motorola is asking 2.5% for royalties.

Apple also has 4000+ Nortel patents and hundreds of Novell patents over
Unix.

Apple can certainly sue Motorola/Google over these patents if Europe allows
Motorola to make a mockery of FRAND Licensing of standards essential
patents.

For non-FRAND patents, Apple does not license them. Apple wants its
competitors to invent their own IP. Apple's uses its inventions (i.e. patents)
to
differentiate itself from competitors.

================================================
=======
Innovation = Inventing something new that does not violate existing patents
================================================
=======

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wikipedians are very touchy.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 06:04 PM EST
I have been a very serious fan of John Coltrane for over 30
years. I am also a physician specializing in liver disease.
I found the Wikipedia article on Coltrane to be vague and
somewhat misleading where it covered his death from liver
cancer, so I did what I thought was my civic duty and edited
the article to reflect what is highly likely to have been
the cause of his cancer.

More specifically, over 75% of liver cancers occur in
patients with cirrhosis, especially cirrhosis caused by
chronic hepatitis such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
Coltrane was an injection drug user until around ten years
before his death, and injection drug use is a very strong
risk factor for viral hepatitis. Hence, the most plausible
scenario is that Coltrane acquired HBV or HCV in his younger
years and later developed chronic liver disease that was
complicated by liver cancer. Any physican familiar with
liver disease would come to this conclusion.

Anyway, I was surprised to find my edits reversed. I
explained all of the above in the discussion page for the
article, and was told that my proposed edit was
"controversial" and "speculative", and that my suggestion
would not be accepted, even though I am a liver specialist
and the Wikipedians involved had no health care background.

Since then, I have not been very motivated to make any
further contributions to Wikipedia, even in areas where I
have expertise.

DSB

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software Standards and Patent Licensing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 08:15 PM EST
I was a bit surprised that, even after mentioning RAMBUS, you failed to
address the naturalness of litigation when parties have disputes over
FRAND obligations. It seems that the abuses could not have been remedied
without suits based on violation of FRAND notions and laws that address
those notions.

A US District Court observed that SSOs' FRAND commitments are legally
binding on the members who claim a patent is essential in the process, so
that any party claiming that they cannot gain reasonable access to the
standard has legitimate grounds to sue.

If a standard has been so widely adopted as to make it impossible to do
business without access to FRAND licensing, then a country's competition
regulator might sue a patent-holder for abuse of a quasi-monopoly.

I don't see how other arguments between two rivals could be admitted into
the cases without blowing out the notion of FRAND, and FRAND seems a
tremendously important protection against abusive business practices.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One other wrinkle on FRAND
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 16 2012 @ 01:34 AM EST

Is it fair, reasonable, or nondiscriminatory for a holder of a patent subject to
a FRAND pledge, to refuse to license it to another party, when said other party
is suing for infringement of an unrelated patent?

In the cell phone/tablet wars, Apple has been busy suing various vendors over
GUI patents that are not essential parts of any standard, and not subject to any
FRAND pledges. In retaliation, some other vendors with substantial IP
portfolios in the area of cellular telephony, have been refusing to license to
Apple standard-essential patents subject to FRAND pledges, until and unless
Apple drops their lawsuits.

Can FRAND patents be used defensively in this fashion, or should FRAND patents
only be licensed for financial consideration--i.e. it's a violation of FRAND to
require that licensees of FRAND patents license their own patents instead?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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