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Apple Asks Europe to Clarify Rules on Licensing Essential Patents

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Apple has written to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) asking it to reconfirm the principles it lays down for licensing patents declared to be essential to the telecoms industry.

Apple is currently involved in a dispute with Motorola in Germany over patents declared to be essential, and which Apple accepts that it infringed. The dispute is based on whether Motorola, which is obliged to license the patents in a fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (Frand) basis not just going forward, but also historically.

Motorola wants Frand licensing for future sales, but is seeking damages for previous unauthorised infringements.

In a letter sent to ETSI and seen by the Wall Street Journal, Apple said the industry lacks consistent licensing schemes for the many patents necessary to make mobile devices, and offered suggestions for setting appropriate royalty rates that all members would follow.

Apple said in the letter, which was sent last November, that the lack of clarity about the issue of Frand based licensing was leading to unnecessary disputes amongst telecommunications patent holders.

Much of the industry did operate as a bit of a cozy club until Apple entered the smartphone market and at the launch of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs famously said that they were covering the device in patents and would sue companies that infringe its patents.

As Apple is equally dependent on wireless patents, the company appears to be seeking a more conciliatory resolution to the ongoing patent-war between tech firms.

On the web: The Wall Street Journal

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Tags: apple  etsi  motorola