A report in February 2013 revealed that the frequency of patent-related lawsuits has pretty much doubled in the last few years. In the US alone in January of this year, 530 brand new lawsuits were filed under patency discrepancies. The reason for this is that people are seeing high profile cases around them such as the on-going battle between Apple and Samsung; realising that a lot of money is to be made. Recently, Apple won one billion dollars from Samsung over five different patent claims, but want even more; Apple want to destroy & cripple Samsung for stealing their concepts. This is the age of patent wars.
Ericsson vs Samsung
Samsung isn’t just under fire from Apple in 2013. In the US court, Ericsson filed against Samsung over issues concerning fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND). What the long and short of this is that if the judge rules in Ericsson’s favour and think that Samsung are in the wrong; many Samsung products could be banned from being imported to the US. The products include the S III, the Galaxy Note II and many cameras and blu ray players.
Nokia have been relatively quiet in the patent lawsuit field so far but that is all about to change. In 2013, Nokia have taken out patent claims against Research in Motion, HTC and ViewSonic. Nokia claim that these companies have not respected their intellectual property, thieving the concepts for their inventions without paying the all-important licensing fees.
Nokia may be onto a winner here, for at the end of 2013 a company called RIM saw no light at the end of the tunnel and stopped their disputing with Nokia; settling the patent case. Patent wars are not just lawsuits anymore; they have become strategic games to take down competitors.
BT vs Google
In 2011 BT set eyes on Google, claiming that Android technology had infringed six of their patents. BT didn’t just go for pocket change, the company asked for billions in damages from infringements on Google Maps, Music, location-based-advertising and the whole of the Android domain/market. However in 2013 Google has countersued BT claiming that they are using ‘patent trolls’ to start new lawsuits, which has been done by selling patents to third parties. Don’t be surprised if this patent war lasts a few more years in the courts.
The multi-billion dollar (approximately $20B US) industry of smartphone accessories is the latest to get caught up in the patent wars. The companies which bring consumers cases which protect smartphones from tea spillages & toddler tantrums are turning against each other for patency domination. Otter Products is one particular company with a point to prove; taking out lawsuits against Treefrog Developments and Mophie. Otter Products claim that they have been infringed on their waterproof cases.
Also, another company called Ballistic Case Co also have sued Boxwave corp for infringement concerning their 12 million dollar ‘shell case’ series. Ballistic claim that they have not only stolen their idea, but undercut them on it; Ballistic sell theirs product for $35 where Boxwave sell theirs for a mere $10.
As you can see, patency wars are just getting started. Any consumers can see the similarities in the products that are available, so it is just a matter of time till the companies behind them start claiming compensation. What effect will this have on the consumer market? Probably companies being more unique in their product design and ideas, which can only be a good thing….right?
About the author:
Matthew writes for Legalweek’s job website . He’s an android user himself, but still covets Apple handsets – and likes to keep up to date on the latest patent infringement battles.