The Korea Herald


FTC to toughen rules against patent trolls

By Park Hyung-ki

Published : Jan. 15, 2014 - 19:48

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Source: Patent Freedom Source: Patent Freedom

The Fair Trade Commission, the nation’s regulatory authority for fair competition, said Tuesday that it would draw up measures and revise patent-related laws to protect domestic tech companies from an increasing number of abusive practices by nonpracticing entities.

The country’s toughened stance follows a global move against NPEs, known as patent trolls whose only purpose is to seek profit through patent infringement lawsuits against global tech giants.

NPEs, which purchase and hold as many patents as they can, usually have no intention to further develop or license technologies, but target and accuse tech companies of infringement to enforce patent rights through litigation.

Following the U.S. Innovation Act last year, the antitrust agency aims to come up with stronger measures within the first half of this year as FTC chief Noh Dae-lae called for increased protection against patent trolls in the information, communication and technology sector.

“The importance of regulations against abusive practices concerning patents is increasing as the ICT sector is engaged in fierce technological competition globally,” said Noh in a meeting with the state-run Korea Development Institute.

“This calls for stronger measures and improvement in guidelines governing intellectual property.”

The FTC chairman has called on the KDI to collaborate and seek ways to devise effective measures to counter patent trolls whose motive is to hinder competition and technological development.

Tech giants such as Apple, Google and Samsung Electronics have been among the top targets of patent trolls over the past years.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, faced 38 patent lawsuits by NPEs last year, the third most following Google and Apple, according to PatentFreedom, an online community that shares information on NPEs.

The Korean tech company engaged in 151 patent rows with NPEs over the last five years.

Google, the global search giant that developed the Android operating system for mobile devices, was embroiled in 42 lawsuits last year, a number also matched by Apple.

LG Electronics, Korea’s second-largest tech company, faced 27 suits filed by patent trolls.

An increasing number of patent rows triggered by NPEs had prompted the U.S. to devise the Innovation Act passed by the House of Representatives late last year. The bill, aimed at curbing further litigations by patent trolls, is awaiting Senate approval.

The Korea Intellectual Property Protection Association, however, said in a report that excessive regulations could create side effects in Korea as they could slow technology inventions.

By Park Hyong-ki (