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Patents The Almighty Buck The Courts Apple

Are Patent Wars Worth the Price Tag? 128

ericjones12398 writes "It's beginning to feel like a TV series, a weekly patent war drama. Apple and Samsung have consistently been going back and forth with claims of IP infringement, to the point where who is accusing who of what is exhausting to follow. The question I would like to ask and try to answer is what the opportunity costs are of pursuing litigation versus just toughing it out? Would it be more economic for both companies to live and let live, or is there value to be captured in legal finger pointing? My best guess would be that this isn't about stopping sales this quarter or next, nor is it about defending the small-scale tech features that merely mildly differentiate. It's instead about momentum and branding. Winning these cases is PR that says, we are the leaders in smartphone technology, we are the innovators."
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Are Patent Wars Worth the Price Tag?

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  • Shoot a lawyer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gription ( 1006467 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:15PM (#40443601)
    This is more about the legal department making decisions. Are they going to decide "Let's not do any litigation!"? Of course not. They will always pick a choice that keeps them employed.
  • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:15PM (#40443611)

    To the community at large: no. End of line.

  • by thomasdz ( 178114 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:16PM (#40443643)

    After a few years of these patent wars, all the Googles, Apples, Microsofts, Samsungs, etc have big war chests that they can win some battles and lose some battles. unfortunately, battles will kill the smaller companies and keep the existing big companies in place.
    Status quo all the way's a new world.

  • It depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:17PM (#40443647)

    If you can spend $20M on litigation and it gives you a monopoly over a key feature in a market worth even a few billion, it may well be worth it.

    Whether it's worth it to *society* is a different question, one that has to do with when and to what extent patents actually do their job of promoting innovation.

  • by EliSowash ( 2532508 ) <<ten.hsawos> <ta> <ile>> on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:17PM (#40443663)
    A little part of me wonders if the lawsuits are as much a strategic business plan to foil the competition. Y'know, like throwing around some bad press will dissuade investors, and a court ordered delay for a product's entrance to market in a particular region will cost the opponent so much in revenue, and allow the plaintiff time to get a foothold in the marketplace. Sort of 'gaming' the legal system to get a competitive edge, without so much concern for the outcome of the suit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:19PM (#40443683)

    Nail, head hit. It means that someone who has something truly innovative either faces the choice of being bought out by a big company for pennies on the dollar of what they are worth, versus being forced into bankruptcy.

    And people wonder why zero R&D is done in the US these days...

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:22PM (#40443719) Homepage Journal

    My personal belief is *any* public policy that favors huge corporations over small business is a job killer. It's not the huge corporations that are creating the jobs and it never will be again unless the U.S. goes to 3rd world status and people start taking jobs for $1 an hour.

    That means patents. It means tax law and abatement. That been big money lobbying.

    You can list all day.

  • Re:It depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ColdCat ( 2586245 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:40PM (#40444011)

    Maybe but personally I haven't in mind even one patented feature which gives a company a monopoly sufficient to kill competition. Today's patents is made to fight between company of the same size.

    It's used by big company to kill small once.

    It's completely ignored by big company because they could handle years of procedures.

    It's used by dying company to try to win maximum money before completely collapsing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:50PM (#40444153)

    The ability to own an idea, and to have the full force of law behind my ability to control the utilization of that idea for *everyone in the world,* is worth every penny.

    Of course, the only people who can actually leverage patents to this effect are the already-entrenched wealthy, but that is a practical necessity; if patent enforcement were available to everyone then the whole system would come crashing down in a gridlock. What a waste *that* would be! So since the utilization of patents is already limited to the specific groups who already own most of them anyway, the system as a whole is well worth the cost.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @05:01PM (#40444323)

    However, there are indeed domains where a period of exclusive commercial exploitation makes sense. Drug research, movie production.

    Disagree on both counts. Drug research should be publicly funded, for the benefit of the public and of humanity at large. Why should pharmaceutical companies get to extort money from people who desperately need medicines, and deny medicines to entire regions that are plagued by disease? We have also seen these companies push medications harder than those medications need to be pushed, pressuring doctors to give unnecessary and sometimes dangerous prescriptions, and pressuring politicians to keep easy-to-produce medicines illegal (and that means more than just marijuana).

    As for movies, it is almost impossible to tell at this point whether or even if the movie industry has had financial problems resulting from online copyright infringement. We have seen them claim that blockbuster hits like Forrest Gump actually turned a loss, just to deny payment to people who foolishly requested a cut of the profits. With the questionable accounting practices we see in the entertainment industry, the cutthroat tactics that have nothing to do with copyrights, I am not sure that industry needs any government protection.

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @05:21PM (#40444619)

    To be fair ... are you serious? Should we be fair to serial killers or politicians who know no other line of work?

  • by oxdas ( 2447598 ) on Monday June 25, 2012 @06:28PM (#40445429)

    What is most interesting to me about this is that patents were originally created to encourage companies to share their designs instead of hording trade secrets. In the current climate, however, many companies are more inclined to keep their products closed source rather than risk having someone sue them for patent violation. Perversely, a highly litigious patent climate encourages the exact behavior that patents were intended to remedy.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde