Apple and Microsoft: Frenemies beat back Android axis in mobile patents

Tech giants are unlikely allies in fighting unfair use of mobile standards that use so-called FRAND patents

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Even in our flawed patent system, the FRAND abuses are appalling
There's a lot wrong with the patent system. Too many ideas clearly based on the physical world and nondigital processes are being given patents when used in the digital realm, for example. There's a recent perversion for patenting business processes that is also ripe for similar abuse.

But it's clear to me (and I'm not at all a lawyer) that although the patent system is seriously flawed, the issues raised in these FRAND suits go beyond those flaws and show a concerted effort to violate both the letter and spirit of standards-based patents. The various court rulings give me hope.

The best example so far: Last week, a Dutch district court sided with Apple in the Samsung FRAND suit version filed in Holland, with a decision that set a new standard of denying injunctions -- the big immediate threat in a patent lawsuit, as an injunction can prevent products from being sold -- in FRAND-related cases because they deal with the use of standards that are ostensibly accessible to all. The Dutch interpretation could help enshrine the basic openness principle behind FRAND and may lead to fewer patent battles over it. Let's hope so.

Apple is no angel, but in this case, it's not the devil. The Android axis is, and I hope the Apple-Microsoft alliance not only stops them in their tracks but causes a serious reexamining in Europe, the United States, and other major countries about the FRAND-abuse problem.

This article, "Apple and Microsoft: Frenemies beat back Android axis in mobile patents," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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