Verizon? Going to bat for AT&T? It may sound a little crazy, but Verizon seems to be getting itself involved in a dispute between Samsung and Apple, asking President Obama to veto the ITC ruling that would prevent the importation of certain older iOS devices – models which only operate on AT&T’s network in the first place. Why would Verizon care about a ban that would only affect AT&T?
Basically, Verizon – like many of us – is getting a little fed up with all these patent suits getting in the way of the smartphone business. The carrier outlines several situations where it thinks that an outright import ban is an inappropriately over-broad reaction to a patent dispute: for instance, if the patent covers a minor feature that doesn’t directly drive sales, if it concerns a patent held by a company solely to be used a legal tool, and isn’t being put to productive use, or when a patent holder has already stated willingness to accept a reasonable licensing fee.
In cases like those, Verizon thinks the White House should veto ITC rulings and enable trade to continue, despite findings of a patent violation.
While the details are different, this is far from the first time we’ve heard the call for some sort of reform to this process – last summer, the FTC was talking about making import bans more of a last-ditch effort, rather than how cavalierly they seem to be applied now.