UN gets Microsoft and others to meet about patent reform

We have seen our fair share of court battles this year among tech companies fighting over patents, such as Apple vs Samsung and Microsoft vs Motorola/Google. Today, many of those companies are scheduled to meet in, naturally, the neutral country of Switzerland to discuss technology patent reform.

The meeting, which will have representatives from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Samsung and many others, is being held by the International Telecommunications Union, a division of the United Nations. The ITU states:

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the effectiveness of RAND-based patent policies and whether these policies adequately respond, in the light of the current increase in patent litigation, to the needs of the various stakeholders. The goal is primarily to provide a neutral venue for industry, Standards Development Organizations (“SDOs”), government and academia to exchange ideas that will guide future discussions on whether current patent policies are adequate or sufficient.

One of the goals of the meeting is for the parties involved to "find out how standard essential patents can be enforced without hindering competition." Microsoft, along with other companies, have already released statements about their views on technology patent reform on the ITU website. The company says, in part:

The international standards system works well because firms that contribute to standards promise to make their essential patents available to others on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. Consumers and the entire industry will suffer if, in disregard of this promise, firms seek to block others from shipping products on the basis of such standard essential patents.

While it's good news that the companies most involved in patent lawsuits are meeting like this, it remains to be seen if there will be any kind of patent reforms made, much less enforced, anytime soon.

Source: ITU website
Patent logo image via Shutterstock

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The UN?! Jesus I think they should be concentrating on more pressing matters... like world peace and ending poverty rather than helping rich companies make more money.

or you can get google to license stuff which clearly they have a problem with and will rather steal first, grab marketshare and then try to litigate their way out of paying.

As long as small creators wont be involved there's no hope for a good reform.

The current system is sorta not too bad for big companies.

The real persons who suffer from this system are small creators who inevitably have to fight patent trolls cause about everything is patented these days even obvious and general concepts.

LaP said,
As long as small creators wont be involved there's no hope for a good reform.

The current system is sorta not too bad for big companies.

The real persons who suffer from this system are small creators who inevitably have to fight patent trolls cause about everything is patented these days even obvious and general concepts.


At the same time, people who complain about patent litigation need to realize that patents are more than the headlines smacked on articles. It's become standard operating procedure for journalists and bloggers to "sum up" a patent in a sentence (sometimes even two!) when the actual patent filing will have been much more extensive.

Considering it's all public domain, I frankly wish people reporting on patents would LINK to the patent along with every other article source. Damned if you can get journalists to responsibly cite their sources, though.

and yet again the UN gets the giant corporations to help make decisions that affect every single business and inventor on earth.. Much like how they got Coke and Pepsi to help them figure out how to handle the growing problem of drinking water around the globe..

Shows the huge negative with massive centralized government is that it will turn to massive corporations because they are much easier to work with then taking an international vote on an issue..

the UN does a lot of great things but I disagree with them interacting too much with huge corporations.. its like the start of lobbying the UN

Total BS. I don't see how anyone can disagree with this. This patent mess has gone on long enough, no one can say that it doesn't need sorting out, you don't need a vote to know that. Obviously the larger companies will never sort it out on their own. They will continue to go to court. The UN has to step in, because most of these companies are like children and will get nowhere on their own.

Personally i'd like to see things go a lot further and just get rid of all patents or atleast make laws so obvious and basic things can't be patented (like rectangles with rounded corners).

Lachlan said,
and yet again the UN gets the giant corporations to help make decisions that affect every single business and inventor on earth..

If the meeting is restricted to large corporations then you are correct; if the meeting is open to consumer groups and smaller businesses then it is perfectly valid. Businesses should be represented when considering reform of existing laws, although their opinions should be balanced by those representing the consumer and the government.

Lachlan said,
and yet again the UN gets the giant corporations to help make decisions that affect every single business and inventor on earth.. Much like how they got Coke and Pepsi to help them figure out how to handle the growing problem of drinking water around the globe..

Shows the huge negative with massive centralized government is that it will turn to massive corporations because they are much easier to work with then taking an international vote on an issue..

the UN does a lot of great things but I disagree with them interacting too much with huge corporations.. its like the start of lobbying the UN

I think a lot of people don't fully understand the issue (me included) and it is far more likely that these big companies do because at the moment they are the ones involved in some of the biggest patent battles going on.
Putting it out to a general vote will end up with an unbiased (maybe) but certainly uneducated response.
just because these companies are meeting to discuss it also doesn't mean they get the final say on any changes that they agree to. Most likely they won't agree on anything given the companies involved, I would expect MS and Apple to side and google and samsung to side together for starters. But who knows what other companies which are involved will do or say