Patent Fight in the Tech Sector and Their Possible Consequences

by Lilly on October 2, 2013

Patent infringement law suits are a never ending battle between big tech firms like Apple and Samsung. It’s a battle that never sleeps, there’s almost always a suit either ongoing or about to start in these areas. The question is, what kind of effect will this have on customers?

Holding mobile phones - Shutterstock Holding mobile phones – Shutterstock

Apple vs. Samsung

An example of the recent infighting between tech firms includes the recent Apple patent win against Samsung.  Apple managed to ban Samsung from selling certain phones in the United States. The Trade Commission recently ruled that Samsung products infringed on two different Apple patents. One was for a multitouch touch screen. The other was headset plug detection technology.  Apple actually tried to sue Samsung over more than just the 2 patents, but those were the only ones they got. There were four others. As a result, Samsung can no longer import to sell certain devices that are covered under Apple’s patents.

Innovation Results

There can be a lot of possible effects of patent wars, both positive and negative. But one of the possible positive effects is that companies are forced to innovate. If they can’t use a particular type of technology in their devices because another company holds a patent on it, such as the headphone plug detection tech that Samsung can no longer use, they are often given pressure to innovate to get around the problem. A company in a situation like Samsung’s might develop some new technology for headset plugs, or that des the same thing as a headset plug such as a result of not being able to use the old method. In this way consumers can end up benefitting by seeing major improvements in technology that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

Wasted Money

One of the possible negative effects from patent wars is that companies will waste huge amounts of money on the wars in order to try to get an advantage, or to make sure they don’t lose a lot more. As a result, all of that money goes out the window and half the time there’s not even any definitive winner. And even when there is an obvious winner such as in the recent Apple patent case, all of the money that went into the case could’ve been used to add value to consumers instead. So in that sense they can be a bit of a negative.

Remember the Customers

One part of the population that tends to get forgotten when it comes to law suits is the consumer.  The results of law suits are often regional so it means that US users in New York or Indianapolis can’t buy the same products as the ones in Shanghai or Taipei in Asia. Usually companies need a good lawyer to achieve this but certain products can be banned from certain markets. Apple recently managed to get the sale of some Samsung phones banned in the US.

These patent fights can cause great loss for manufacturers if a product has to be pulled from a certain market. Let’s not forget about the grey market however: if a product is really great and sought after, like the iPhone, merchants will surely find a way to get it to the local market, but in most cases, at a higher price.

If you need legal help with intellectual property, see our list of some of the best intellectual property lawyers in the US here – more to follow in due course.



I'm Lilly Sheperd, an occasional guest-blogger and a full time freelance communication consultant. When not blogging, I like to travel and read a lot, especially about education and law.

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