Motorola Droid RAZR and Apple iPhone 4

Most of the scrutiny over abuse of standards-based patents has come through European Union investigations of Motorola and Samsung. That attention might come to the US if the Federal Trade Commission has its way. It just sent a letter to the International Trade Commission arguing that companies should be blocked from landing bans if they base their disputes on standards. These kinds of blockades "deter innovation" and spur companies to try for much more of a cash windfall from a patent than it's really worth, the FTC argues. The letter doesn't directly accuse anyone of getting their fingers dirty, but there's little doubt that it's referring to Motorola (now part of Google) and Samsung: their varying ITC disputes against Apple and Microsoft are often based around standards patents for technologies like 3G and H.264 video, which aren't supposed to demand legal action except as a last resort. An angry FTC missive doesn't constitute a formal investigation that would actively worry either Motorola or Samsung, but it certainly fires a warning shot across the bow.