Recently, we have seen many patent lawsuits in the mobile phone sector which has consequently increased costs for manufacturers. The result is the rising prices of mobile phones and wireless gadgets for consumers. This year two smart-phone makers, Apple and HTC, which are considered to be the most innovative makers of mobile gadgets, were involved in highest number of patent related litigation. Apple and HTC have surpassed their own 2008 and 2009 patent litigation records. And the number of patent litigation is on the rise since 2007.
The patent war between Nokia and Apple started from October 2009 when Nokia litigated Apple for violating its 10 patents. Nokia, further, imposed five lawsuits on Apple in May 2010 accusing that Apple’s iPhone and iPad infringes five Nokia patents. In March, we noticed that Apple took steps against HTC, a Taiwan based firm, for infringing Apple’s twenty patents related to touch screens and menu controls. The tussle did not end here and recently on May 12, HTC responded to Apple’s claims with its own set of complaints to US International Trade Commission. HTC asked the commission to stop importing Apple’s iPhone and iPad to US in order to protect its own intellectual property rights.
Patent is also the reason behind recent acquisition of Palm by HP by $ 1.2 billion. The press release from HP said that the acquisition of Palm was undertaken to acquire the patent related to Palm’s WebOS for smart-phones. A professor at Columbia Law School, Eben Moglen, is of the opinion that recent patent related actions and counteractions is the sign of period of instability in technological sector. This sets the stage for increased competition among patent holders for acquiring the larger share of smart-phone revenues which was $ 61 billion in 2009 and is expected to grow by 30% in 2010.
The reason of ongoing patent war is the merging of computing, communication and software industry. According to Gustav Brismark, vice president of patents strategy at Ericsson, the patent lawsuits emerge whenever there is merging of industries. We can easily observe that smart-phones are increasingly integrating the functions and capabilities of personal computer and software. Hence there is increasing incident of patent infringement among communication, computing and software industry.
- Kharif, O. (2010). “Smart-phones are the latest Patent Battleground.” Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved July 12, 2010, from http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2010/tc20100512_956709.htm