Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Dec 2009 23:53 UTC, submitted by OSGuy
Legal And here you were, thinking the legal tussle between Apple and Nokia couldn't get any uglier. Well, it turns out it can, as Nokia has filed another patent complaint, this time to the US International Trade Commission. This new case revolves around patents other than the ones in the first case.
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RE[3]: Can you say settlement
by rmeyers on Wed 30th Dec 2009 20:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Can you say settlement"
rmeyers
Member since:
2009-12-16

Maybe this can clear up a little confusion. (At the risk of causing massive outrage!) In the US the law specifically says that anyone who 'makes, produces, uses, ...etc.' a 'device' which incorporates a patented 'process' is guilty of patent infringement. Yes, you read that correctly, an end user who purchases a product in good faith and with no knowledge of any infringement is also guilty of patent infringement, with one exception.
The exception is if the product in question qualifies as a 'consumer product' the seller of that product must indemnify the end user for any damages resulting from the end users infringement.
So for example, if I buy, say, a John Deere tractor that includes an infringing technology, then I am also guilty of patent infringement and may be sued by the patent holder. A tractor is not considered a 'consumer' product. If on the other hand I were to purchase an iPhone that included infringing technology, I would still be guilty of patent infringement, and could still be sued, but Apple would have to indemnify me.
If all of this sounds a little insane it's only because it is.
Suing end users rarely happens but the threat of suing your end users is often one of the tactics brought to bear to try and settle cases.
Oh, and before someone jumps in and says that this is a consumer product or that that is a consumer product, be advised the in the US the US government is the final arbiter of what is and is not a consumer product.
It gets better. Humorously enough, the software industry has fought, successfully, for decades to keep software from being declared a consumer product. You know, to keep from having to comply with all of those pesky consumer safety rules. So as an added benefit, if you "buy" any software that infringes anyones patents, you too can be sued!
It should be noted that while I believe that everything that I have posted above is correct I have probably painted too gloomy a picture, at least a little. For those not in the US the logic of our legal system may seem somewhat strange. In the John Deere example above the proper recourse for me as the purchaser of a tractor that infringes someones patents is to sue John Deere. And so on up the chain. In theory everyone is made whole in this fashion. May have worked well a couple of hundred years ago too. The sad reality today is that the little guy (customer) could not afford to go after a well heeled seller no matter how good you case.
So when you hear someone say that the patent system needs overhauling - it is even worse that you thought!

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Can you say settlement
by darknexus on Wed 30th Dec 2009 21:43 in reply to "RE[3]: Can you say settlement"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Ouch, that hurts my brain. Yet more wonderful garbage from our ever so screwed up legal process. Guess that's why I never had any interest in being a lawyer, I don't know whether to laugh out loud or smash my head into a wall in sheer despair when it comes to things like this.

Reply Parent Score: 2