Intellectual property is a niche area that involves legal protections such as patents. Patents reward the patent holder with protection against others stealing their ideas. One argument in favor of these protections argues they encourage innovation by rewarding the effort required to make truly unique products.
Just how far these protections reach was recently questioned in a case that is currently under media scrutiny. The case, FTC v. Qualcomm, involved allegations Qualcomm was engaged in unfair methods of competition. The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) essentially argued Qualcomm’s practices to protect its patent essentially led to a tax on smart phone makers. The company used a “no license, no chip” practice that it argued was industry standard. The FTC disagreed. As a result, it requested an immediate injunction.
The judge presiding over the case held in favor of the FTC.
What’s next? Qualcomm has argued that the injunction would do irreparable harm to the company. It points to the fact it would likely need to restructure agreements with many different companies to honor the injunction. Qualcomm also claims the odds of a successful appeal are high. As such, the company has filed a petition to put a temporary hold on the court’s ruling.
In addition to the temporary hold, another possibility involves Qualcomm requesting the 9th Circuit stay the ruling. Either way, Qualcomm is clearly pursuing options to negate the current ruling.
What can others who hold patents learn from this case? The case provides a reminder that the IP field is fast evolving. As a result, any business or individual that holds patents is wise to stay abreast of these developments and make changes as needed to better ensure their IP is properly protected.