In a joint declaration likely to affect future rulings involving Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung (SSNLF.PK), Google unit (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola, and other equipment manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have said lawsuits related to standard-essential patents shouldn’t end in sales bans.
The statement, meant as an appeal to the U.S. International Trade Commission while considering injunctions, comes with the motivation to protect public interest, Reuters said. Instead of injunctions, monetary damages may be more appropriate punishment vis-à-vis consumers, the bodies said, though they added that certain cases may merit sales injunctions, too.
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“The USITC, may conclude, after applying its public interest factors, that exclusion orders (sales injunctions) are inappropriate,” the statement said. The statement is a suggestion and not binding for judges.
The two organizations did come down hard on tech companies leveraging standard-essential patents, which are meant to be inexpensively licensed to anyone, to gain an unfair advantage in the market. This kind of intellectual property has been a key element of the patent battles being fought around the world between manufacturers, especially those that make smartphones and tablets.
In an ongoing case with the ITC, Samsung has accused Apple of infringing on several of its standard-essential patents and demanded bans on violating products. An administrative law judge at the commission ruled the iPhone maker innocent in a preliminary ruling in September, but a final decision is expected this month.
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