I have been following news around patents lately. I have followed what happens on patent field because I am an inventor that has made some patents and being referenced on some other. The patent situation seem to be quite insane right now, especially on smartphone field.
I can agree the comment Patent law is a very imperfect tool for establishing moral culpability I saw in Linux Magazine. Whether you favor patents or not, it is important to face the fact that patent law is a construct of the business world. Patents protect opportunities for patent holders and restrict opportunities for others. What engineers need to know about patents article tells that most engineers know what a patent is broadly; for example, a bundle of rights related to an invention.
Patents are considered by many parties as vitally important to protecting intellectual property. Plenty of creativity occurs within the technology industry, and without patents, executives say they could never justify spending fortunes on new products. And academics say that some aspects of the patent system, like protections for pharmaceuticals, often function smoothly. It’s clearly demonstrably true that wielding patents to stop people copying protected methods obliges them to come up with new methods of their own. This is why patents are so widely supported by inventors, industry and governments. It’s an irreplaceable component of industrial organisation that produces and propagates invention. In April 2012, in its report on Intellectual Property, the US Patent Office (USPTO) concluded that the entire US economy relies on some form of IP, because virtually every industry either produces or uses it.
Patents have become a technology industry battleground as mobile-phone, tablet and computer makers try to lure consumers with constant improvements to their video and sound. Smartphones have become the focal point for lawsuits and licensing talks because the market is so huge, it is growing so quickly and cutting-edge technology is used in them. There Are 250,000 Active Patents That Impact Smartphones; Representing One In Six Active Patents Today. And this is for for an industry that is certainly less than 1% of US GDP. It definitely appears that there’s something of a “bubble” going on around smartphone patents. The explosive growth of the smartphone market means mobile patents are particularly valuable these days. Major players are increasingly going to court with one another over alleged infringements. It also makes for an astounding minefield for anyone new who wants to enter the space, especially if you don’t have a massive war chest to license or fight in court.
Patents have been a very important tool on industrial era to protect companies. Many people argue that the nation’s patent rules, intended for a mechanical world, are inadequate in today’s digital marketplace. Nowadays patents seem to be especially on on the software side especially old-fashioned and even harming economy. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently published a working paper calling for the abolition of patents, saying they do more harm than good. Import bans over patents cause ‘substantial harm,’ FTC says.
Unlike patents for new drug formulas, patents on software often effectively grant ownership of concepts, rather than tangible creations. Today, the patent office routinely approves patents that describe vague algorithms or business methods, without patent examiners demanding specifics about how those calculations occur or how the software operates. The patent office has a reputation for being overworked, understaffed and plagued by employee turnover, and employees concede that some of their work is subjective. As a result, some patents are so broad that they allow patent holders to claim sweeping ownership of seemingly unrelated products built by others. And it happens more and more often. Yes, the system is frequently gamed, it generates avoidable costs, it’s unnecessarily complex, and it creates many absurdities. There Are Too Many Patents In America.
Recent research supports view that patent troll activity is rising — costing America a fortune in wasted legal fees and lost jobs. Patent trolls are a plague. And they are every day armed with more and more patents. ‘Patent trolls’ cost other US bodies $29bn last year, says study. And this figure does not include indirect costs to the defendants’ businesses such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share. Direct costs are large relative to total spending on [research and development], which totalled $247bn in 2009, implying that NPE patent assertations effectively impose a significant tax on investment in innovation. Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Calls For Governments To End Patent Wars. The problems with the current system are so pervasive, that many companies say, that the courts, lawmakers and Silicon Valley must find their own fixes.
In the smartphone industry alone, according to a Stanford University analysis, as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years — an amount equal to eight Mars rover missions. Last year spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings. Apple’s CEO thinks that patent system is broken in a fundamental way. It allows companies to exploit standards-essential patents — patents that must be licensed in order for products to function according to accepted industry standards. The Patent Wars: Infographic confirms that everyone in the tech world is way too sue-happy.
Apple vs. Samsung patent verdict was a lot of talked about event lately. Apple-Samsung trial has clarified that patents are the “lifeblood of business” and putting powerful short-term legal protections under inventions is overwhelmingly more convincing than any mooted alternative. Apple v. Samsung case highlights money to be made from patent litigation. Linux Magazine editor is amazed at how little all the “authorities” seem to know. Is there a lesson in all this? A huge team of lawyers billing US$ 200 to US$ 800 per hour erected weeks of elegant arguments and a jury thought about the whole thing for 21 hours and 37 minutes. The 109 pages of jury instructions contained 700 questions, which means that jury reached consensus on one point approximately every 33 seconds.
The Apple v. Samsung case really ought to shame the industry. It let a jury, also known as “people off the street”, decide on liability and damages amounts and kept a lot of lawyers in alligator skin shoes. And while it is probably the lawyers that benefited the most from the whole ordeal, no one else is. And I’m not convinced that any of these patents are actually valid. Of course, Samsung argued that Apple also copied, which is no doubt true, but just because Apple got away with it doesn’t make it okay. Apple and Samsung would be better off — and their consumers would be better served — if the tech giants took their epic patent battle out of the courtroom and into the marketplace. The best thing about the case is that it has exposed just how awful the patent situation has become in the US.
A new patent case has just started. Microsoft v Google judge could shape the world in new patent punchup because that could finally tell tech companies how much a standards-essential patent is worth is about to kick off in the US. Microsoft filed a lawsuit in 2010 that challenges Google-owned Motorola over the its use of standards-essential patents (SEP) in court cases. Microsoft and Apple have tried to argue that Samsung and Motorola shouldn’t be allowed to use their SEP in court cases. Both European and US authorities have also been investigating whether any firm should be allowed to get the law involved in SEP but haven’t come to any conclusions yet. Motorola has tried to get 2.25 per cent per device out of Apple and Microsoft. The patents this case is are related to for example to H.264 video coding. Redmond is accusing Motorola of violating its responsibilities to standards organisations to license the patents at fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory rates (FRAND).