Verizon May Ask President Obama to Intervene in Smartphone Patent War

Submitted by patentadmin on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 09:00

August 25, 2011 - Verizon may ask the Obama administration to step in and stop the patent war between smartphone manufacturers from interfering with the importation of wireless handsets to the U.S., according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Although the Supreme Court's 2006 decision made it much more difficult for patent owners to win a permanent injunction against infringers - banning their products and halting sales - the fact that most smartphones are assembled overseas gives litigants another venue: the International Trade Commission. It can't award damages, but does have the nuclear option of blocking the importation of infringing devices into the U.S.

Verizon's chief counsel, Randal Milch, has developed a chart of all the devices that could be blocked by ITC rulings that are now pending - and it includes iPhones and Android tablet PCs. Since the President has the power to waive ITC rulings, Verizon would like Obama to waive any ITC decision blocking the importation of a wireless device.

According to the WSJ piece, a 4G smartphone "is said to implicate a hellish half-million patents" - so infringement is almost unavoidable, especially by Google. Verizon, which provides service to both iPhones and Android devices, will lose big if the ITC blocks their importation.