Saturday, May 19, 2012

ITC Issues Import Exclusion Order for Motorola Android Devices, Associated Software and Components

These days everybody in American government is getting into the act of having their own personal say on the ongoing patent wars and the war against Android is continuing across a broad front -- foolishly, from our point of view, as all of these cases have cemented our own resolve to buy ONLY Android smartphones and PC tablets, out of protest against the monopolists.

The newest entrant is the United States International Trade Commission ("ITC"), which is not even a judicial body, but an agency which nevertheless has apparently decided that it has the investigative power, knowledge and economic and legal foresight to determine when patents have been infringed and when not, and to take action, if imported elements are involved, including the banning of imports (e.g., as in the case discussed here, issuing a "... limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed  entry for consumption of mobile  devices, associated software and components thereof...that are manufactured  abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, Motorola.").

This is a completely new twist in setting up indirect trade barriers based on simple patent infringement allegations which have not been decided by courts of law -- a totally bizarre development which started with the HTC case that we posted about recently, and which is now continued here.

The way it looks to us, the USA does not need any "real" courts to determine patent questions involving products made in international cooperation. Rather, patent trolls can now get their evil work done simply by relying on power-hungry trade agencies ready to issue orders as needed.

The newest case is reported at The Verge by Matt Macari under the title Microsoft wins ban on Motorola Android devices from the ITC, who writes:
"We saw this week just how powerful an import ban can be as US Customs officials enforced an ITC exclusion order delaying the importation of new HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE smartphones into the country, and it looks like Motorola Mobility could be facing a similar fate. On Friday, the full commission of the ITC sided with Microsoft in ruling that Motorola Android devices infringe US patent no. 6,370,566, issuing an order that could keep products like the Razr, Atrix, Xoom tablet, and several other models off US shelves in the future."
The ITC -- whose job should be international trade tariffs and not the regulation of domestic competition -- are not at all disturbed by the fact that the case involves competing U.S. companies in the smartphone and PC tablet industry.

Nor is the ITC disturbed that this is clearly a case in which the purpose of patent infringement claims is to harm the competition rather than to actually gain any patent licensing fees, should such be due.

The award of such license fees, if justified, would be the job of "real" courts.

Rather, the ITC has seen that it can exercise its trade powers and flex its muscles by banning not only the import of allegedly patent infringing devices themselves, but also "associated software" or "components". The ITC need not worry if "real" courts later negate their findings. The no-name ITC Commissioners appear to be accountable to no one in particular for their decisions, nor is there an ITC appeals agency. Just wide-reaching orders by no-names affecting gigantic sectors of the economy.

Now THAT is government over-reaching.

Thus a completely new chapter in patents begins, adding new injury to an already desolate patent system, and now extending the evils of patent trolling to the imposition of international trade barriers by a trade commission having no patent expertise and no judicial standing.

Government by fiat. Frightening.

American Policies on Energy and Environment Baffling as the U.S.A. Puts High Tariffs on Solar Panel Imports from China as an Antidumping Measure

One can not escape the feeling that a lot of people in the United States government, and elsewhere, do not understand modern environmental needs and issues, especially as regards energy. Gas-guzzling vehicles. Apathy about the environment. No sensible energy policies. Worse, in this industrial sector, as most others as well, the manufacturing system is from yesteryear.

Keith Bradsher and Diane Cardwell have the story at the New York Times in U.S. Slaps Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels - What a paradoxical sector on which to put up protective tariffs. One would think the more cheap solar panels the better, given the need to lower energy costs.

What is particularly baffling is that sources in the the USA are COMPLAINING that the Chinese "non-capitalist methods" give them an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE!

The article quotes lawyer Alan Price from the law firm representing the USA in the solar panel case, Wiley Rein, as follows:
"China’s method is straightforward: it sets forth industry-specific Five-Year Plans and then uses all forms of national and local subsidies and other governmental support to quickly transfer jobs, supply chains, intellectual property and wealth, to the permanent detriment of U.S. and global manufacturers," he said. "China’s ability to ramp up and overwhelm an industry is unique and particularly devastating with new and emerging technologies, where global competitors may be less established and can be knocked out more easily and quickly."
The question then arises what the "good old boys" and the staunch supporters of American capitalism are doing wrong in the USA in turning modern America into a manufacturing wasteland that is no match for socialist countries?

If we follow the train of Alan Price's thinking, and he may well be right, a much larger socialistic Chinese behemoth is apparently far more nimble and adaptable than the backward American manufacturing system, which, by our experience, is often mired in past nostalgic centuries, methods, ideas, attitudes and politically absurd conceptions.

What did we just read, that Hewelett-Packard is to let go of as many as 30,000 employees? at a company now headed by a political favorite of the GOP?

The only measures that most American CEOs seem to understand to increase profits are outsourcing and/or cost-cutting by getting rid of employees, leaving a mass of unemployed for the government to look after.

The idea at HP is said to be that the money saved will be invested in a better-trained sales force able to generate more cash. Surely that is a joke. Is the delusion there that such measures will make HP more competitive with Canon and other competitors? Not on my desktop.

My first printer was an HP. Since then, the company HP has been resting on its laurels. Grow, or die. That is a rule of life, and a rule of business.

How about better and more competitive products? Where, in Europe, does one find products on sale that are "made in the USA"? American wares, with few exceptions, are also-rans. How much of American resources are going into research and progress, rather into the ever-filling pockets of the upper income classes?

Start there if you want to keep from being over-rolled by the Chinese.

If America thinks it is going to prosper in the future, putting up protective tariffs is not going to help a defunct system living from patent trolling, trade barriers, and completely out-of-date political ideas. No way.

Either you have free trade, or you go back in all product sectors to the old system of protective tariffs, which may not be advisable for an American manufacturing sector that has been less competitive as time goes on.

America's problem is not dumping by China.

America's problem is a structurally unsound economy geared to filling the wealth demands of company owners, vastly over-inflated salary levels of corporate executives, and unrealistic demands of stockholders for stock price appreciation. The idea that companies should concentrate on state-of-the-art production of goods and services appears to be a novelty.

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