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

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.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Legal
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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

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

    But there is a potential winner, if people would just wake up. WP 7 is the only current phonee OS that des not infringe on any patents.
    Stephen-B
    • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

      @Stephen-B No, it's the only phone OS no one has sued yet. Because the sales numbers don't warrant it, yet.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

        @JamesKendrick <br>Actually Microsoft IS winning the patent game. Apple can't and won't sue Microsoft because they either share the same patent pool or have license agreement with Apple. <br><br>Over Android front there are very few successful cases of invalidating those "MS Patents" on Linux and MS still collecting money from Android.
        Samic
      • Microsoft's Just Playing a Different Game

        @Samic<br>Microsoft is just taking a different approach. They're making it cheap enough to settle with them so that it's not worth it for the companies they are suing to fight it out in court.<br><br>In some cases while playing this game, a potential lawsuit target isn't worth going after because they stand to lose more by settling than by fighting, or because a potential countersuit would be too much trouble. This is why Microsoft hasn't sued Apple. Apple stands to lose more by settling than by fighting, and has patents of its own to assert against Microsoft.<br><br>Sometimes the company playing this game ends up miscalculating and suing someone who won't settle, at least not at their price. When Microsoft miscalculates, then you see a legal battle which probably won't be won by either party. This appears to be the case with Barnes & Noble at the moment.<br><br>Remember that almost always with corporations money is the only factor that means anything in their decision making process, and principles and ethics are not even a consideration. They are also risk averse, so a plan which is sure to keep them making money for now is better than one that might make them more money in the future. Occasionally a lawsuit target fights just for the principles involved, but it's very unusual.
        CFWhitman
  • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

    Deleting posts because you don't like being proved wrong? How classy.
    danjames2012
  • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

    I'm not sure it's endless. After a huge amount of the legal boxing rounds, options are going to run out. They can't go on fighting like this forever. This will have to evolve into something else. The law itself must have a mechanism for [i]res judicata[/i] and business practicalites that might eventually emerge from this battlefield might lead the companies to be more pacific.

    The problem I see is that the final costs will be too much, and there are still a lot of bear-pouncing options yet to be used.
    JOB83
  • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

    From the article:<br>"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.<br><br>Change 'litigation' to 'negotiation' and this would cover Microsoft's hiring of Dave Cutler and others from DEC in 1988 to create Windows NT. It would be interesting and informative if ZDNet were to write a retrospective on this and put the current litigious environment in stark relief.<br><br>Also from the article:<br>"No one is going to win this in the long run.<br><br>Except for patent lawyers involved in the litigation. They are winning *BIG*, even when they lose. The phrase "feeding frenzy" comes to mind.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Wrong! Consumers win big. Patent protection is the only thing that keeps

    innovation coming. If every company that spent millions of dollars and hundreds of man years innovating awesome new tech had to worry about apple and google just coming in afterward and ripping them off by just copying all their hard work instead of licensing it there'd be no prospect of roi and innovation would slow to a crawl.
    Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Mobile patent litigation: It's a push game no one wins

      @Johnny Vegas

      You are misinformed. Patents don't create innovation. Innovation means changing the way things are done.

      Patents create monopolies.

      Monopolies deter innovation. As all inventions and other innovations are built on previous innovations, what patents do is to slow down progress in the patented field for the life of the patent.

      Patents were created for two reasons. First, they gave the King's supporters a monopoly. Second, they allowed a mechanism to slow invention down to a pace that allowed the law time to adapt to the new conditions.

      Both reasons are important to the US Government today, as they were in the 17th century to Great Britain.

      Politicians and Judges keep expanding the allowable subject area of Patents becuase A. the Politicians are paid by lobbyists from large existing corporations that have existing monopolies to protect, and want that protection expanded.

      And B. Judges want cases to try. They also are very pliant to Politicians requests. Judges don't generally understand the technology. They do understand the need for time to understand the technology. They also need to understand the impact of the technology, which is even more important for the Law than what the technology actually is.

      However, the current Patent System in the US, and in most of the rest of the world IS broken.

      That's why about once every ten years, the US Patent Office winds up giving out a patent on the Wheel. Other patent offices don't do any better.
      YetAnotherBob
  • Credit to where credit is due. Apple started it!

    Now it's fine to say nobody wins, and I believe that. Just don't forget who is litigating instead of competing for the benefit of all Mankind.

    Apple truly re-invented the term trivial litigation. Now all these frivolous claims will be disproved once-and-for-all legally.

    No amount of RDF can erase that.

    [i]~~~~~~~~~~
    The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.
    {Chinese Proverb}

    It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
    ~ Warren Buffett

    Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.
    ~ George Bernard Shaw
    [/i]
    WinTard