Bad news for firms like AppleStandard battery chargers for all mobile phones will have to be provided by manufacturers in future, once EU draft proposals become law. Yesterday [19th December 2013], European legislators were putting the final touches to the proposals which, if adopted by the parliament and member states, will be implemented around 2017. It means mobile phone makers will have to provide a standard battery charger that can fit any device, including smartphones, though just how firms such as Apple will react – and whose latest Lightning iPhone connectors incorporate a tiny chip to combat copying – remains to be seen.
As well Apple, sub-contractors like Britain’s Wolfson Microelectronics, which was awarded a contract to provide Lightning cables this time last year, could similarly be affected, as could other firms such as Asus whose charges also have proprietary designs.
But yesterday EU legislators backed an earlier report by the union’s Internal Market Committee in agreeing there was no compelling reason why a phone charger should be protected by proprietary patents.
Plus, in future, all chargers distributed in member countries should have a standard interface – probably one based on a microUSB connector.
Once the law is finalised, member states will have two years to incorporate it into national statutes, though some larger manufacturers – including Apple and Samsung – will be given an additional year to comply.
The lawmakers also agreed on tougher market supervision ensuring certain products have to be registered before they can be sold, in line with a database system already used in the USA.