Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

Summary:Patent infringement claims in the mobile space are a giant push game that no one can win. Especially not consumers.

If you follow the mobile space you are bombarded with news about one company suing another over patent infringement. This is followed by the inevitable countersuit that aims to block the first action. The cycle is never-ending, with each company continuing to counter the other ad nauseum. It's a push game that is designed strictly to create obstacles and delays in the product cycle. No one can win this game of patent litigation because there is simply too much money involved.

The way the system used to work was much different. A company would get a patent covering a specific area of technology unique to the pertinent industry. Another company would introduce a product that the patent owner felt improperly used its technology, and litigation would be the result. After a lengthy legal tussle the new product would either be found guilty of infringement or not. Money would usually change hands if so and life would go on.

See also: Mobile patent litigation: A game with too many playing cards

The mobile patent situation of today is much different. The major players are industry giants with an almost endless bankroll to fuel the legal battle. The products being assaulted are already established in the market, and it is a huge market. The amount of money on the legal table is tremendous, and that makes it worthwhile for the companies involved to go all or nothing in the legal fight. No settlements are in the works because the players don't need to do so. There is more than enough funds in the kitty to keep fighting all or nothing, and that's what they are doing.

The end result is an endless legal battle that aims at throwing obstacles in the course of normal business. While the suits demand offending products be pulled from the market, the real objective is to create one hurdle after another that the other companies involved must keep jumping. It is a delaying tactic to keep everybody involved on edge, while throwing an ungodly amount of money down the legal sinkhole created.

This has been going on for a while with Apple suing mobile giants Samsung and Motorola Mobility in international court. The two companies responded with counter allegations against Apple because they have to to keep doing business. The push game in action.

Motorola Mobility just received an injunction against Apple's iCloud technology in Germany that has Apple shutting down that service. It's a small piece of infringing technology but the victory means Apple has to scramble to react to the court ruling. One of those hurdles successfully in play. No doubt Apple will respond to this ruling with other claims of its own to keep the balls all in the air. It's how the game works, not to get infringing products off the market, just to make it difficult to do business as usual.

Apple just filed another 278 claims in Australia that Samsung products infringe on its patented technology. This was a further action by Apple against Samsung to keep the latter jumping over the hurdles in court. That is guaranteed to happen as both Apple and Samsung are giants in the mobile space, and with nearly endless resources to fight this legal battle. That is coupled with the big revenue now at risk by these actions, which makes it impossible for either company to back down or settle.

It is the biggest poker game in history, and totally a push game. No one is going to win this in the long run.

Image credit: TaxBrackets.org

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Topics: Mobility, Legal

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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