Well, the DoJ also pushed through a few more interesting bids today. The Nortel Networks Corporations patents bid by Apple, Microsoft and ROM were approved. The third item to pass with flying colors was Novell Inc patent sale to Apple. All those patents picked up by Apple can never mean good things for the rest of the world. There is a silver lining though. The approval of those acquisitions were only given after the Antitrust Division launched an investigation. They found that the patents were unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the market. They did however say they will be keeping a close eye on how the newly acquired purchased patents are handled.
“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.” – USDoJ
To put that in human terms, if Apple or Microsoft decided to use the patents to push out competition and be down right jerks, the DoJ is gonna get pissed. Each of the groups involved did agree to a noncompete order of sorts.
“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.” – USDoJ
So the big boys will still get paid licensing fees as per usual patent ownership, but they aren’t allowed to make that fee so outlandish that no one can use them. That is my take on it anyways. In other words they can’t charge RIM 5$ per use and then tell Google they want $35 per use. Just isn’t fair. Hopefully all the new patents that are changing hands will tame the sue happy company’s long enough to start making improvements to their devices and products. Hey a guy can dream can’t he?