The Impact of Patent Infringement Could Prove To be Monumental
The smartphone battle has been getting increasingly heated as of late with both Apple and Microsoft taking Android device makers into litigation over patent disputes. The cases are being conducted in front of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). Consequences for patent infringement in these cases can lead to hundreds of millions in royalties to the winner and could block the importation of a manufacturer's devices into the U.S.
Apple VS. Samsung
The Apple Samsung case is the largest and most noteworthy of the cases that are taking place. Apple and Samsung have both filed lawsuits in which they call for a block on the importation of each others Galaxy phones and tablets, along with iPhones and iPads. The case comes as a surprise to many considering the two companies are major partners in the mobile arena with Samsung being the only manufacturer of the A5 chip inside the iPad 2.
Apple is claiming that Samsung imitated the look and feel of the iOS products with their Galaxy line of phones and tablets. It's not hard to see that the TouchWiz UI does look similar to the iOS interface, but the jury is out on if Samsung is guilty of what Apple calls "Widespread Imitation."
Samsung has cases in multiple countries in which it states Apple is infringing on 10 of its smartphone patents. The major one being the ability use the web while on a phone call, something Apple has touted as a major feature on the iPhone.
Apple VS. HTC
Apple is in battle for market share with all of the major Android players and HTC is the next in line to be taken accuse of patent infringement. HTC has been found to violate patents on "System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer," and "Real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data." HTC has stated that it will go all out in its attack to fight these rulings from the ITC.
HTC recently purchased S3 which owns two patents that Apple was found infringing upon by the ITC in May. They will try to use these patents as bargaining chips in the dispute with Apple, but the jury is still out on how much leverage they will garner.
Eric Schmidt and Larry Page the men in charge at Google said that they are not worried about the increasing amount of litigation regarding their Android OS. Eric Schmidt has been quoted stating,
"We have seen an explosion of Android devices entering the market and, because of our successes, competitors are responding with lawsuits as they cannot respond through innovations."
While they don't seem to be worried about the current proceeding they do understand the impact they could have on many of their most valuable manufacturers. While the patent situation is not yet clear we hope deals can be worked out that do not come back and start impacting innovation in the mobile space. Eric Schmidt has said in regards to the HTC case that if the situation requires it, "We will make sure they don't lose, then." Microsoft already makes $5 for every HTC phone sold and they can't afford to have another company piggybacking off of their sales.
While most of the patents refer to hardware level implementations, which Google has chosen not to cover many people expect them to do more to protect their investment in Android. Hopefully they do what is needed to make sure that their partners don't lose more battles in this patent wars and the results have the ability to drastically effect the smartphone market landscape in the future.
What's your take on the patent disputes that are coming from seemingly all directions as of late?