A total of 27 companies involved in the technology and autopilot industries, including Apple, BMW, Cisco, Daimler, Dell, Ford and Lenovo, filed a complaint this week with the European Commission about the abuse of patents by FRAND (i.e. fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) in autonomous driving, according tomedia reports. The innovation of self-driving cars and other connected devices has been stifled.
In a letter of complaint to the EU, the 27 companies are reported to have written: “Some (standard required patents) owners only license certain companies … Hindering investment in the Research and Development Department of the Internet of Things and related innovative technology companies. This stifles innovation, prevents new market access and undermines the relationship between suppliers and old customers. The result is that European businesses and consumers may have to pay more for what they need in a more competitive market. “
Since the complaint letter does not name the company complaining about, the specific blocked patents and the companies involved are not known. That said, butmedia reports suggest that Eu President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager were denied permission by Nokia for refusing to license the company that operates the self-driving business. Thierry Breton, the EU’s industrial policy commissioner, was quick to receive the letter.
In recent days, EU regulators have pledged to investigate Finnish telecoms giant Nokia amid complaints from Daimler, supplier Bury and other companies involved. In response, Nokia called such an investigation “immoral.”
It’s not clear what Apple wants from the EU investigation, but the tech giant’s commitment to building its own self-driving car project, Project Titan, is no secret.
As early as 2015, Apple began an ambitious start-up in the field of self-driving, employing more than 1,000 people to conduct research on a wide range of self-driving technologies, but apple’s actions in the field can only be seen in the disclosed patents. Later, Apple’s self-driving car was forced to run aground in late 2016 after an accident in its self-driving vehicle struck a road test, causing inconsistencies in Apple’s upper layers.
While Apple continues to reshape its self-driving car team and build test sites in California, self-driving vehicles for consumers may not be mass-produced for years to come.
In addition to self-driving vehicles, Apple may also try to protect the valuable technology it has in mobile devices through a letter of complaint sent to the European Union. More specifically, as the companies of these companies have signed the letter of complaint, mastering advanced technology at 5G may be at the heart of the letter. Ultra-fast wireless protocols are critical to the operation of self-driving vehicles, and for the next generation of smartphones and laptops.