Apple Pay under FRAND attack in Europe

From Bloomberg's "Apple Would Have to Share Payment Tech Under Rules Mulled by EU" posted Friday:

The new laws would prevent mobile device manufacturers from limiting access to near-field communication technology embedded in smartphones and other devices such as smartwatches, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg.

The report is set to be unveiled next week by the European Commission as part of a package of policy proposals. It includes a footnote to a competition case launched by the European Commission’s antitrust arm in June, which is seeking to assess whether the iPhone giant unfairly blocks other providers from using the tap-and-go functionality on its smartphones.

“In parallel with its ongoing and future competition enforcement, the Commission will examine whether it is appropriate to propose legislation aimed at securing a right of access under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions [FRAND], to technical infrastructures considered necessary to support the provision of payment services,” the EU says in the document.

My take: Ironic. Apple's usually on the other side of these fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing cases, as in The Register's "You're not our FRAND any more, Apple tells Qualcomm."


  1. David Emery said:
    And will the EU indemnify Apple from all liability from problems created by 3rd party use of NFC?

    September 18, 2020
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    FRAND presupposes the technology is essential for devices to access a common technology standard.

    The problem with this inquiry is there is no common standard that mobile pay systems need to effectuate their transaction, other than Bluetooth, which is not controlled by Apple.

    This is nothing more than another politically motivated grand stand.

    September 18, 2020
    • Fred Stein said:

      And it’s more confusing. It’s my understanding that FRAND refers to royalty payments and the path would be adjudication not legislation.

      And then would the commission propose laws for the EU and pre-empt all member states?

      So, yes, grandstanding, nothing more.

      September 18, 2020
    • David Emery said:
      Specifically, “FRAND” refers to licensing terms when formal standards use patented technology. The patent holders agree to license their technology to implementers of the standard under “Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory” terms. (See Florian Mueller’s blog for discussions of the law around this. Some patent holders have not implemented their agreements. )

      September 19, 2020
  3. David Drinkwater said:
    If Apple does not insist that all platforms use their technology (does not make the technology “essential”) then Apple is under no obligation to charge fairly or reasonably or without discrimination. Apple can set the price wherever it wishes. (Obviously, they don’t want to make the price unattractive, or they will lose the business opportunity.)

    September 19, 2020

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