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Are Patent Wars Worth the Price Tag?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face dept.

Patents 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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Shoot a lawyer... (5, Insightful)

Gription (1006467) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443761)

Hey loser, go worship your zombie god. Arguing on the internet is for losers. Seriously--go hug a dog or go to church. Both are better uses of time than posting on Slashdot.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443871)

...

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443955)

....

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40444009)

..

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40444379)

.....

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444587)

..-. ..- -.-. -.-
    --- ..-. ..-.
       

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40444013)

You know, I was just sitting here wanking my dick missing to myself how better do I spend my time than shitting my pants and playing the slashdot when it occurred to me, what the fuck is really going on, bitches? I mean really? Why don't we all just say fuck this man? I mean really? What the fuck is really going on? For real. This is no legacy of tape to leave to our descendents. This is a hog put off swine testicles. We are in this sit, man. It ain't getting better. No ducking way. Not in this lifetime. Not on this ducking plain of existence. Sooooo, I guess really what I want to say about the whole mess is I don't really ducking care.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443883)

I'm pretty sure that even the lawyers have to get it past the bean counters before they can make a move.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40444491)

They sue the bean counters for not doing due diligence, and thus the bean counters just say...whatever dude, go sue somebody else.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444947)

In my company at least, the bean counters have to clear everything they do with the lawyers. Not the other way around.

Of course it is worth it! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (5, Interesting)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444237)

This is more about the legal department making decisions

This is usually very much NOT the case. Legal departments in major corporations don't usually make these sorts of decisions. Or, when they do make the decisions, they're usually very conscious of the fact that lawsuits (and legal fees generally) are not viewed as revenue centers, but cost centers. Wins in any litigation are usually windfalls, not strategic investments.

There are exceptions, of course. Companies do exist with litigation as their business model. However, you might be surprised about how much strategic planning goes into that as well.

Are they going to decide "Let's not do any litigation!"? Of course not. They will always pick a choice that keeps them employed.

In-house lawyers don't view litigation as job security. Few companies staff litigation lawyers. That work is almost always moved to outside counsel. Those with litigators on staff don't usually do patent litigation. Litigation tends to detract from scarce corporate resources for legal services that are usually necessary to keep a business running.

For most companies, in-house counsel are concerned more about avoiding litigation and the expense of that litigation than they are with prolonging that litigation.

All of that said, it may come as a surprise to you that BUSINESS teams are usually more litigation happy than the lawyers especially if they see a competitive reason. In fact, at Apple, Steve Jobs famously said that he's willing to go "to thermonuclear war" with Google over Android: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/06/04/steve-jobs-quotes-allowed-in-apple-google-patent-t [insidecounsel.com]

In addition, business teams tend to be less calculating about their litigation risks than the lawyers they have on staff.

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (2)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445553)

Wait, you are claiming that the post is not valid because in-house lawyers don't generally do the litigation? You state yourself that outside firms normally handle that litigation. This points at the post being more correct, not less correct based on that fact. An outside firm has to worry about their jobs, so of course prolong cases to increase revenue when possible. At the same time, I'm sure that businesses are shown over and over how companyA won a million dollars from companyB, and using case law think they can win.. even in cases like SCO vs. IBM.

The whole idea patent bullshit needs to be reverted and removed from the system. Let's all just call it a social experiment that went totally wrong and be done already. It has broken the patent system as to be nothing but a big joke to everyone except a few select law firms and companies that make money trolling on patents, and of course those with enough capital to staff law firms and patent writers.

Nobody want's to innovate in this environment for fear of being sued into Chinese rice farmer poverty. Hell, look at the innovation rewards Nest is getting thanks to Honeywell. In case you are not familiar here [theverge.com] is an article. The opinions expressed against Honeywell don't take away the lawsuit, the C&D orders, the lost revenue, etc.. etc...

Re:Shoot a lawyer... (1)

Artagel (114272) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444349)

The parts of the company that develop and sell goods control the expenditures of the legal department all the time. The legal department does not conduct litigation -- it farms that out. And it has to defend all those dollars spent to the CEO And CFO. Historically, high technology companies have not litigated much. A company has only so many things it can pay attention to. A litigation can divert the attention of top people at the company whose time is probably better spent doing anything else. Entering litigation is not only a dollar cost, there are also opportunity costs. Back when technology companies were essentially expanding into a vacuum taking time off for a law suit would leave both companies behind their respective competitors. Time was too valuable to waste on litigation, so cross-licenses with a transfer of cash became the default model. It may be that the high technology sector has become a mature enough sector that there is not much vacuum to grab. At that point mergers and acquisitions, patent portfolio acquisition become more viable. And a company's competitors may find that it is easier to expand onto the company's territory than go get new intellectual property territory of their own. Intellectual property is part of managing competition. Patents preserve features, copyrights preserve authored works, and trademarks preserve goodwill. For any business that can make money any other way litigation is not a preferred way to make money. And just about any other way than litigation is the preferred route. That is, unless a business likes having to dig up emails and tape backups, have their executives set aside time to download their knowledge to their lawyers and then set aside time to be a witness to boot. The only ones in that boat are failing companies and patent trolls.

Testosterone matters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443607)

There is no way to estimate the cost of not playing the game without stopping it. There is too much testosterone involved to try anything that radical. This is as much about CEOs throwing a hissy as it is about bidness.

Are Patent Wars Worth the Price Tag? (4, Insightful)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443611)

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

I despise patents (5, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443623)

I am convinced that at least 99% of patents are useless. They are trivial expansions on previous patents, maybe changing the temperature of an annealing, maybe adding .01% more chromium, or changing the angle of a gear surface by a degree. Software patents are far worse them mechanical patents, and I have not heard of a single one that is not obvious to someone skilled in the arts.

If those companies spent half on research what they spend on patent lawyers, they'd beat the competition in products and build up their internal skills to keep their edge.

Patents are the first refuge of the unskilled.

Re:I despise patents (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443847)

Excellent, so do you agree then that all patents and copyrights must be abolished? [slashdot.org]

Re:I despise patents (5, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443965)

Yes I do. Intellectual property is no more property than vibrations in air.

The idea that someone can write a song and retire and the grandkids can probably retire at birth too is disgusting. Whereas I write a program and have a job. Did K&R retire from writing C? No, it just gave them the reputation to get further work. That's all anyone should get.

I have a neighbor whose father wrote some famous songs, and now he spends half his time ferreting out bands who don't pay the proper respect. Nice for him, does nothing for productivity or creating new works or making anyone, including him, any happier.

Re:I despise patents (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444131)

There, there. I agree that intellectual property ha been completely subverted. I agree that software patents should be outlawed, that the copyrightableness of code should be carefully examined, and the copyrightableness of binaries also. However, there are indeed domains where a period of exclusive commercial exploitation makes sense. Drug research, movie production.

I like the position of the pirate party : copyrights should be a lot shorter (~10 years) and non-commercial sharing should be allowed. It is, however, productive to propose a period of commercial exclusivity.

Re:I despise patents (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444269)

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

I don't by that at all. Most copyrighted items make all their money in the first few months. That's the lead time when your imitators are copying you and when you should be already working on the next project.

As for copying books and such, I know many people who are quite happy only buying the real thing. I have no doubt that enough people do that to make it worthwhile. If movie budgets have to be cut back and movie stars no longer get $20M for phoning in a mediocre performance, I won't be crying.

Then there are artists who actually make statues and paint pictures. I do not think it makes any difference if someone copies their work. There are far too many fat cats willing to pay premiums for certified works. The people who buy copies couldn't afford to buy the real thing, so what sale has been lost?

It's just like people who download thousands of tunes they couldn't afford to buy. What sale has been lost?

Re:I despise patents (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:I despise patents (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445355)

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,

- that's so stupid.

What are you going to do? Outlaw private funding into medical research? Outlaw results of such private research from being used to make money on the drug market?

The problem is exactly what you propose as a solution - government IN research with its patents and FDA and various subsidies, and you want to solve that problem ... wait for it .... with more government.

Are you a government employee?

Re:I despise patents (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445611)

Drug research should be publicly funded

Isn't it already? I mean I see tv shows asking for my money all the time. Radio shows asking for donations.

Or what happens with that money and what if somebody actually found a cure for cancer? Would they say: "ey, we got this great thing because the people gave us money, so let us open-source it and give it away for free, so anybody can produce it and people can buy it at the lowest price."

Or would they say "Sod them, this is where people will give their and their kids money for, so let's charge that."

Re:I despise patents (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40446885)

Drug research should be publicly funded, for the benefit of the public and of humanity at large.

What I would like to see is X-Prize [wikipedia.org] style competitions for open drug research. If $10 million can get us a modern, reusable spaceship, then imagine what that could do to the drug research industry. A lousy $1 million prize got us several years of competitive research into statistical prediction algorithms for something as frivolous as choosing what movies to watch. [wikipedia.org] Imagine what humanity could gain from a $50 million prize for a malaria vaccination or similar.

Re:I despise patents (1)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445079)

Please so not confuse copyrights with patents.

Re:I despise patents (2)

aitikin (909209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448071)

Posts like yours and (moreso) the posts that follow tell me that I no longer belong reading slashdot. Musicians deserve payment. Fuck off if you feel they do not. Sure the music companies don't deserve the majority of the payment, but that doesn't deter from the fact that, if I write a song, and you love said song, I should be able to reap some reward from it.

I don't have a problem with copyrights being shorter, although, I'd say 10 years is a hair short, 20-25 is plenty though. If I, personally, ever write anything that's copywritten (music, books, otherwise), it will be in my will that, if five years after my death, the piece is not 25 years old, any piece still remaining will be public domain. But, judging from the comments following your post, I just don't belong here anymore. I've been reading Slashdot for years, but I fear that I no longer follow the same mindset as this place, and even that I'll be brandished a troll for having this mentality.

I dislike patents, and frankly feel that, outside of perhaps medical applications, patents should be limited to 10 years and strictly enforced in favor of the patent holder (my old neighbor invented the spray attachment for sinks, never made more than a few hundred dollars off of his patent), but at the same time, should be limited. Patents on medication should be extremely limited in the case of sustaining meds (as in you have to keep using it), but extensive (35 years or so) in the case of curative meds (take it for six months tops and you'll never have to take it again).

I don't know. I'm starting to think that, when it comes to IP law, Slashdot is almost as bad as the creationists when it comes to evolution.

Re:I despise patents (3, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448235)

So if a programmer writes code that you like in your phone, should you pay every time you use it?

If an ironworker installs an elevator, does everyone who rides it pay a fee, inclduing for 75 years after his death?

If you take a trip on the subway, does the driver get paid for that trip until he dies, and his children and grandchildren collect royalties for 75 years more?

If you have a really good juicy apple some day, should the farmer who grew it collect royalties for the rest of his life, and his children for 75 years after?

Fuck you. Everyone is people too, and enrich your life far more than songs. They also have families and bills to pay. Unlike songwriters, they don't expect to collect royalties for every use, or for their descendants to keep collecting said royalties for 75 years after they die.

Re:I despise patents (2)

aitikin (909209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448695)

No. A coder is paid up front. An Ironworker is paid up front. A driver gets paid at the end of the trip. A farmer gets paid before I eat it.

A musician gets paid a loan, and then gets fucked over by the RIAA and then, people like yourself, who are seemingly inherently jealous of the fact that they have creative talent, fuck them over as well. Frankly, good sir or madam, fuck you and your philosophy on people who create things making nothing in the way of money and being ignored the entire way through. You can fuck off and realize that the slashdot community has, in no small part because of yourself, lost some perspective by driving individuals like myself away. You and those like you, who are resentful of those who care about the creative process should move to China and respect their lack of copyright laws, or being a fucking (wo)man (as applicable) and respect that there are people who hold a separate opinion from yourself and deserve to be able to express themselves without having to worry about the fact that the people around them hate what they have to say.

If you fucking bothered to read what I wrote, you'd see that I don't agree that copyright should last as long as it does, but no, you think you know better than to read an actual argument that disagrees with your standpoint, and, therefore, show that you have no fucking will or intellect, merely a high and mighty point of view. Frankly, I consider you as low as the god damned fundies who disbelieve evolution because they refuse to even consider it. You can fuck off.

Re:I despise patents (1)

drkstr1 (2072368) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449441)

More artists would be able to make a living wage if the media monopolies were broken up, loosing thier strangle hold on all the distrobution channels, and the services they once filled a need for be provided by small specialist companies whom work FOR said artists.

Piracy helps artists by tanking the business model that exploits them and the consumers.

Re:I despise patents (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449213)

Musicians deserve payment

Did some magical entity tell you that that is a fact?

I'm starting to think that, when it comes to IP law, Slashdot is almost as bad as the creationists when it comes to evolution.

I don't believe most people are debating the specifics of "IP" law, but that they're giving their opinions about it. Therefore, it has nothing to do with being factually correct.

Re:I despise patents (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449353)

Musicians deserve payment

Did some magical entity tell you that that is a fact?

Okay. Fuck that. No one deserves payment for anything they do. You're a coder? Code for free. You're IT in a major corporation? Do it for free. You're a mechanic? Fix my car for free. You don't like it, too bad, you're arguing for it.

You want my honest to flying spaghetti monster opinion? If not, feel free to ignore my comments, but if you respond, at least read what I'm saying unlike the majority of responses on this topic. The vast majority of people are trying to do something they enjoy doing and get paid for it, whether it be get paid a fortune, or just enough to scrape by. If you ask me, than I think that fact that musicians make money these days is a shit ton better than living your life as a well respected individual who can't afford to even pay for more than a modest funeral. [wikipedia.org]

I'm starting to think that, when it comes to IP law, Slashdot is almost as bad as the creationists when it comes to evolution.

I don't believe most people are debating the specifics of "IP" law, but that they're giving their opinions about it. Therefore, it has nothing to do with being factually correct.

So, according to you, having an opinion that is based on nothing or incomplete assumptions is valid? I bet, if I were to search this site alone, I could find posts from you arguing that people are idiots for that very thing! The hypocrisy here is unimaginable.

Sure people are not debating specifics, they saying that IP law shouldn't exist at all, and I'm sorry that they feel that they're entitled to know whatever someone comes up with, or listen to whatever someone comes up with, or read whatever someone comes up with, or take the medicine that someone comes up with, without paying that someone some due.

Not that I give a rats ass about mod points, but there was a time when someone who voiced a decent dissenting opinion with decent arguments would at least be modded interesting. Now all that happens is someone who does that gets flamed or modded flamebait or troll.

I think, sad to say, that, because I'm on slashdot for this argument, as your sig so blatantly points out, I'm arguing with children, or at least individuals who hold the mindset of children when it comes to this argument. Because, from my end, any time I raise any point other than something along the lines of, "Intellectual Property wants to be free," I'm the enemy, but the same famed (paraphrased) statement continues, "Intellectual Property also wants to be expensive."

Hi there! Some info for you inside. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40448359)

Um, those are already covered by copyright.

Re:I despise patents (4, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444209)

he idea that someone can write a song and retire and the grandkids can probably retire at birth too is disgusting. Whereas I write a program and have a job. Did K&R retire from writing C? No, it just gave them the reputation to get further work. That's all anyone should get.

I agree. For example, I recently went to an Elton John concert here in Costa Rica. Sir Elton is what, 60-odd now? We had a great time and he played his all time hits. I went home and looked at his concert schedule. The man is working in Vegas every weeknight, and flies internationally on his private jet on the weekends. What this means is he is working his ASS off. Therefore he well deserves all the fabulous riches that he has.

Now look at some of those "one hit wonders" from the same time period that go around complaining and suing people at the drop of a hat. Yeah, fuck em. They don't deserve any more than they got. If they didn't manage their money and decided they could retire at 20, well, they are reaping the rewards life gives such people.

Re:I despise patents (0)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444427)

Now look at some of those "one hit wonders" from the same time period that go around complaining and suing people at the drop of a hat.

To be fair, they're probably doing that because it's the only income they have. Remember, not all of those "one hit wonders" stopped recording after their hit; they kept on going, kept trying for another hit but only struck paydirt that one time. Now, royalties on that one hit are their main source of income and they'll do whatever they can to protect it, just as you would in their situation.

Re:I despise patents (3, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444619)

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

Re:I despise patents (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444889)

Yes. Of course. The fact that you don't approve of them, or what they've done is no reason not to be fair to them. If it were, you'd probably find yourself on the wrong side of that sooner than you'd like. And, the fact that your post is currently at +3 says a lot about the attitudes of some of the moderators, none of it good.

Re:I despise patents (2)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445289)

I'm not sure he was saying that we shouldn't be fair, I think what he was saying is that it's NOT fair for someone who obviously sucks at his job to still get paid for it.

If they are unable to make money writing new music, maybe they should get a different job? I'm a programmer. If I wrote one program for my company and then never could get anything else to compile, they wouldn't think it was "fair" to keep paying me anyway.

So, I think he agrees. Let's be fair. Let's let EVERYONE be paid for what they do, and not allow some people be paid for what they've done.

Re:I despise patents (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445347)

Exactly. Thank you.

Re:I despise patents (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40446761)

If they are unable to make money writing new music, maybe they should get a different job?

Writing a hit song isn't easy, because it's hard (if not impossible) to know what people are going to want to listen to, except in the most general way. (Young people are more likely to buy some sort of rock than they are to buy a waltz, or a polka.) Some people have a nack for it, but not many. And, there's no way to know if you've gotten it right except to have it recorded and put it on the market. And, I think it's reasonable to say that if people are still buying what you wrote years later and new versions of it are still coming out, you've done something right. Now, you may not feel that the original composer deserves his royalties, but the vast majority of people out there do. Personally, I don't blame the artists for all of those suits, I blame the people who aren't willing to pay for the music they use. If the performers and publishers didn't try to shaft the copyright holders there wouldn't be all that litigation and the price of a CD would be lower because the cost of making them wouldn't have to include the cost of litigation.

Re:I despise patents (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448249)

Then either it's pure dumb luck and they need to get a day job, or it's a skill, and they can keep doing it.

Neither justifies life + 75 years of living off royalties.

Re:I despise patents (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443983)

The question is that will they then proceed to get their pants sued off because they have no teeth in the form of patents and lawyers. Not saying it's fair, but the reality of the patent system in the US right now is that it is a business weapon that can be used to pressure companies to license patents they don't need, or to devalue a stock, or a number of other things.

Yes, if everyone played nice, we probably wouldn't need very many patent lawyers at all, but as things are,companies do need to protect themselves.

Re:I despise patents (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444637)

Say what? Are you saying we need patents to protect companies from other companies who sue them for patent infringement?

Re:I despise patents (1)

Xenx (2211586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445105)

Say what? Are you saying we need patents to protect companies from other companies who sue them for patent infringement?

As a society, we use the same strategy with nukes... I don't see a reason to be surprised by the logic of using patents the same way.

Re:I despise patents (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445389)

But patents are a legal creation and can be easily destroyed, unlike nukes.

As for foreign patents and foreign companies suing US companies in their home countries for patent infringement, not much can be done about that, other than US legislation forbidding those companies doing business in the US, or something similar. But the likelihood of the US abolishing patents is pretty unlikely, so I won't worry about that yet.

Re:I despise patents (2)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40446027)

Yes....this is a known thing that big companies do. Google and Microsoft both spend a ton keeping up a patent portfolio and a team of lawyers, not only to push people around if they need to, but also as a deterrent to being sued. If you follow the news, you'll see something like, Samsung sues Google for violation on 52 patents, and google countersues for infringement on 41 of its own patents.

There's even Intellectual Ventures, which offers their protection as a service. They don't make any products; they just hoard patents and sue people.

I'm saying you can't get an edge by playing nice in an environment like this, at least if you get to any decent size others can coerce you into settling for money if you don't have teeth of your own.

Re:I despise patents (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443993)

Sounds to me like you're only reading Slashdot's patent stories.

Many (if not most) patents are indeed practically useless, because they cover specific areas of practically uncontested fields, and will never be challenged, so they serve only to document a technology that may or may not ever be needed in the future. How many companies really care about the arrangement of lenses in a particular theatrical spotlight? Less than a dozen, and they all have their own preferred designs that the company's brand is based on, so they mostly leave each others' technology alone. Each new improvement gets duplicated in other ways, though, so the state of the art keeps progressing.

I'd bet you have no idea how many patents apply to theatrical lighting. Those patents aren't often brought up in court, and don't make the news. There are even software patents, for the various packages to let designers model a stage under various lighting effects with ever-improving accuracy, by employing new techniques to model lights' effects on surfaces as well as volumetric effects of fog and haze. Some of those modeling packages have even influenced research in other fields, but that's outside the scope of the well-written patent, so that won't make the news, either.

Then of course there's the vast numbers of design patents handled daily, which effectively say "my thing looks like this" and really don't effect the state of the technology at all. Those serve the same purpose as a trademark, establishing a unique appearance for the sake of recognition, and all of of course completely obvious to anyone of moderate skill in design.

If those companies spent half on research what they spend on patent lawyers, they'd have the same quality of products, because they could make a little more progress on their own, but they'd have to wait until their competitors release a final product with the latest improvements before they could get one, tear it apart, and find out that the slight addition of chromium drastically alters the metallurgical properties (and therefore the cooling rate) of the spotlight shell.

Patents are a tool for innovation, and like any tool, can be misused to cause harm.

Re:I despise patents (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444293)

So you are claiming that a patent which no one ever violates is a tool for innovation?

I say the patent holder could have better invested that money in other ways. Patent lawyers are overhead.

Re:I despise patents (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445461)

Yes, in that the actual invention is documented and publicly available for future inventors to build on, archived using the best methods available to ensure that the knowledge is never lost.

Throughout history, vast amounts of research have been gained and lost as novel inventions failed to succeed in the market, or as the inventing culture or company was destroyed by invaders or competitors. The only traces we now have of such inventions are the non-functioning relics found in attics and archaeological sites. What knowledge do we possess today that may be of use tomorrow, and who would dare to know?

The management of money is always simpler in hindsight, when the inventor knows that nobody will buy his self-promoted product, and no big company will buy the invention, and a better solution to the problem came out a year later. In retrospect, it's far cheaper to have spent the money on a new car and a fancy suit, to get a better job to rebuild the wasted investment on the product. On the other hand, if the patent is vital to a new industry or is adopted by the whims of fashion, the effort to patent it and secure the credit as the original inventor may be well worth it in the long run. Few inventors have the luxury of knowing their future, however.

There are problems with patents. As I said, it is a tool that can be misused. Faults are no reason to abolish the system entirely, as it does have a useful and beneficial premise that was been well served for the past few hundred years. We should instead encourage reform to correct those faults to accommodate the modern market environment and the breakdown of separation between theory and application.

Re:I despise patents (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445565)

All of the supposed benefits of patents and copyrights are provided in a free market by being the first to market. People do place a premium on innovation. Look at fashion. I couldn't tell the difference between a $20 pocketbook and a $500 one. But there are people who care about these differences that manage to keep the companies that make the $500 ones in business.

Also notice there is very little variability in patent lengths depending on how innovative a patent is. The free market allows such things. If you create something that is way ahead of the competition they will take longer to catch up. If you create a small improvement your advantage won't last long.

As for drugs the whole system needs to be eliminated. Get rid of the patents and get rid of the FDA's power to approve drugs. Let companies sell whatever drugs/chemicals they want and let people put whatever drugs/chemicals into their body they want. As long as the drugs/chemicals are what is indicated on the label the manufacturer would have no liability for harm. Very similar to how herbs and natural drug market works today. The FDA in some form should still exist as an advisory body to test drugs/chemicals and give their opinion on the efficacy and safety.

Re:I despise patents (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40446759)

Patents are the first refuge of the unskilled.

What I find interesting is that "business people" (by which I mean those who are concerned with money rather than engineering) are mostly obsessed with patents. Often the first question asked after an investment pitch is "do you have a patent for this?" And if the answer is negative - then no investment. It is as if they can't understand the potential of the technology itself, they can't see how it could change people's lives, they need instead to have a simple, concrete unit by which to evaluate and differentiate companies, even if that unit is bogus. It leads to startups and other small companies filing for patents to increase the perceived shareholder value, even when the engineers know that the work they are being told to patent is just an implementation of pre-existing ideas, and that every competing product does more or less the same thing in the same way.

Re:I despise patents (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448285)

No, you don't understand business. The business of business is to pragmatically make money in the current environment. Screw trying to be idealistic and change the environment -- that's for fat cats who donate millions and take Cabinet positions. Most business people have learned the hard way that they do what it takes with the system as it is, and that means patents. Has nothing to do with whether they like patents or abhor them. They have to deal with patents or take up some other line of work.

Business is really really simple, altho it takes a lot of skill. It's people who don't understand that simplicity that find all sorts of bogus ulterior motives for everything business people do.

Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the game (5, Insightful)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 baby...it's a new world.

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443821)

Status quo all the way baby...it's a new world.

That's a definition of 'new' of which I was previously unaware. We already have big business, the status quo, the stagnation of our technology and engineering industries, the lack of people entering college who can pass the entrance exams to take science and technology courses... everything happening right now seems centered around depriving the middle class of any ability to exist, let alone move into wealth.

Whether it's Google, Intel, Apple, Microsoft... or big pharma, or big oil, or whomever... the agenda is clear across the board: It's time to kill America. We're moving in to milk it dry, wait for the infrastructure to rot out, and then move on like locusts to another country we can develop, exploit, and then impoverish. ]

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (3, Interesting)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444077)

We're moving in to milk it dry, wait for the infrastructure to rot out, and then move on like locusts to another country we can develop, exploit, and then impoverish.

It's called shock economics - was popular in the 80's and 90's on the international scene (I think they re-branded it and call it austerity now). It is a theory based on breaking unions, abolishing the middle class, privatizing everything in the interests of global companies, and creating two distinct classes of folks - rich and poor. Many of it's proponents and architects came from the University of Chicago. . . . And it seems that they've turned their sights on our country in the last ten years.

There's a book out called the Shock Doctrine - it's about the IMF's and US's involvement in South America, Europe and the Middle East, and our policy of shocking an economy back to health. It's older at this point, but it's main ideas are still relevant, and startlingly similar to what we have going on in places like Greece, and the early stages of what's happening here in the US. Privatize (for a profit for my buddies), because private industry does it soooo much better. What's that? Health care - NOPE. Living wage? NOPE. Suck on that po' folks. But I digress. It's a good book, and is just the start of the rabbit hole.

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40447033)

The book is full of errors and unsubstantiated claims. Please do see Norberg's rebuttals of central claims of the book.

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443977)

Except that, if I have a BS patent, I'm going to throw it against all of these guys with, say, a $5000 settlement price. That shakedown should work against most significant companies since just involving a lawyer to respond in any way will cost more. The big companies have already asked for, and failed to get, patent reform that would prevent this. I would have thought that there would be enough entrepreneurs out there to apply this business model to have the big guys looking for real patent reform (eg end of software patents).

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (1)

Xenx (2211586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445205)

Most big companies have lawyers on staff already.. no extra cost out of pocket.

Re:Yes, because only the BIG guys can play the gam (3, Insightful)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

It depends (3, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It depends (3, Insightful)

ColdCat (2586245) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40448663)

Since the government is there to serve society, then you've just made a case against patent law.

Maybe it's not about the IP at all (5, Insightful)

EliSowash (2532508) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Maybe it's not about the IP at all (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443933)

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.

Well, that's basically what TFA said. Due to the nature of Samsung being a vertically integrated business, whereas Apple is basically a design firm, they're both motivated to fight this battle, since Samsung stands to encroach upon Apple's market share, and Apple can't afford to lose any of the "uniqueness" attributed to their designs.
Of course, since Samsung makes Apple's hardware, they've both collaborated on Apple products, and Samsung now stands a chance of using their expertise to steal some market share. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're stealing IP.

Re:Maybe it's not about the IP at all (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444899)

I agree with this sentiment. Legal wranglings seem to be mostly attempts to put potholes into the path of the competition to slow them down.

Unfortunatly, it's a bit like game theory going out of control. You have all these patents and a multi-party prisoner's dillema. If everyone agreed to not to assert patent infringment suits, everyone could do better, but why not be the one that defects and gains a temporary upper hand. If you study a multi-party iterated prisoner's dillemma, the perennial question is how to get optimal result when everyone's best strategy always seems to be to defect?

Vista vs RIM Patent Litigation (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444937)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_In_Motion#Patent_litigation

On May 1, 2006, RIM was sued by Visto for infringement of four patents.[47] Though the patents were widely considered invalid and in the same veins as the NTP patents – with a judgement going against Visto in the U.K.[48][49] – RIM settled the lawsuit in the United States on July 16, 2009, with RIM agreeing to pay Visto US$267.5M plus other undisclosed terms.[50]

Purely about the money.

In all seriousness (1)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443665)

I'm bored with it all. This kind of shit just makes people want to stay out of business all together. It's no wonder some people resort to leaving the system and smoking themselves to a stupor. Simply. Just. Done.

Re:In all seriousness (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443719)

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.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443711)

Litigating like this says "We are assholes who are afraid our competitor has a superior product and will do anything at all to try to stop them"

Next question (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443733)

Of course they are worth it.
You have to factor in the huge advantage of patents in transforming a virtual landscape, where the idea of a startup can sink an established competitor in a matter of months, in a real market where the advantage of being big makes it very hard for real competition to emerge.
Add the secondary advantage of dealing with imaginary property, which let corrupt managers of big corporations create empty shells/patent troll companies that can transfer money with no need for justification to whatever bank account they like, evading taxes or cheating shareholders.

Big companies dueling are just pretending they hate each others, they cannot use patents only against the little guys, and keep the pretense that they facilitate innovation (which happens to be true, but only for non trivial patents which describe enough of a system to let people replicate it easily when it expires)

Not a bad idea, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443803)

Pay for the legal costs by making a TV series out of it.

Not the right question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443809)

The point of all this is not just a given case, but the force of software patent law altogether. Most of these patents are ridiculous and should not have been granted. In my opinion, software "patents" should be abolished altogether. But that is not the point either. The point of all this litigiousness is to use patent law to create giant software monopolies as walled gardens allowing the monopolies to get away with charging exorbitant fees for DEPLOYING applications. At some point, the war between the giants will turn into the war between the giants and the little guy, because there were be so many "software patents" that the little guy will be threatened with a slap suit if he dares try to innovate. THE RIGHT QUESTION IS "SHOULD SOFTWARE PATENTS EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

Now you blundered in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443823)

Ah, you have blundered into the "innovate or litigate" arena. For example, if you are Mickeysoft, and you aren't making money from Android phones, you claim that the operating system infringes on your patents. This is exactly the way Mickeysoft is making money from Android, even though they don't make an Android phone (see Groklaw.net for more).
Or you do as the ill-fated SCO did, and sue IBM, claiming they used parts of SCO's UNIX in their Linux. Until Novell tapped SCO on the shoulder, and said, "uh, excuse me, YOUR UNIX....?"
And, of course, there are all of the outfits we affectionately call "patent trolls". These are the companies that make absolutely nothing, yet, because they hold patents, go after the folks that actually make things, and try to collect licensing fees from them. (think Lodesys, et al)
Overall, patents were meant to temporarily protect the inventor, so he could make some money from his invention. Unfortunately, the patent system has been subverted. The patent office grants patents on blatantly non-original works. Non-manufacturers assault manufacturers for monetary gain, or to try and drive them out of the market. And don't get me started on that worst of all twentieth-century contrivances, software patents. Oh, well.

Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40443827)

Patents are basically nuclear weapons.

Are they worth it? (4, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443831)

A patent is a contract between the inventor and the government. The exchange is:

1. The government grants an right to the inventor to prevent others from practicing the invention for some period of time, currently 20 years.

2. The inventor publishes in the patent the details of the invention which would give others the ability to practice the invention.

So it's worth it if having the details of the invention published outweighs the costs associated with the restriction on practicing the invention.

Your mileage will vary depending on the nature of the invention. The less obvious it is the more likely you will come out ahead.

For the vast majority of the inventions that Samsung and Apple are quibbling about the answer is pretty simple to see. It's not worth it.

These patents should have never issued.

Re:Are they worth it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40444215)

You are correct in that this is the theory behind why the US has patents.

You are incorrect in the practice. Anything truly worthy of becoming a patent most often is instead treated as a closely guarded business secret; both for international competition among whack-a-mole importers and the hope that they can keep the secret longer than 20 years.

I am convinced that we would all be better off with /copyright/ having a term much more like patents (if you haven't made your money back within 10 years you'll have starved anyway) and patents simply not existing. Please cover Mickey Mouse type stuff via trademark (a consumer protection tool is where brand reccognition belongs).

Re:Are they worth it? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445091)

>Anything truly worthy of becoming a patent most often is instead treated as a closely guarded business secret

Eventually people will reverse engineer almost anything, especially if the economic value is there. Without patents a new problem arises - a lot of things will be sold with licenses and contractual agreements constructed to prevent reverse engineering. Some things, like some industrial catalysts are already sold in this fashion. Not having disclosure of a technology is harmful.

My analysis of the value of patents is simplistic in that is doesn't consider the effects of encouraging or discouraging investment into innovative enterprises.

As far as copyrights, I am also in favor of a much more limited term too. I'm not exactly sure what it should be though. For example consider the copyrights on computer source codes. These protect license agreements that have nothing to do with making money.

Re:Are they worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40447265)

2. The inventor publishes in the patent the details of the invention which would give others the ability to practice the invention.

I've heard that trope before, usually from academics who don't understand how things work in practice.

In practice, this is the true exchange:

1. The inventor says that if the government doesn't give them a monopoly then they won't have any motivation to innovate.

2. The government agrees and gives them the monopoly as an incentive to innovate.

The publishing of the patent details is necessary simply to document the scope of the monopoly granted. Very few people (except misguided academics) consider the publishing itself to be of any significant value. Even if the details weren't published, in a vast majority of cases people could figure out the details anyway -- simply because a vast majority of patents are for things that are easily developed by a practitioner with ordinary skill in the field.

Unfortunately, we have a whole generation of older academics who refuse to see how patents are actually being used in practice, and cling to the quaint, thoroughly outdated theory that there's some intrinsic value in the publishing of the patent details.

Re:Are they worth it? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448171)

Obviously you have a very poor understanding of patents.

The fact of the matter is that the description of the technology is in the body of the document, but the scope of the coverage is in the claims.

Very different material.

And as far as the value of the patent details, I worked about 25 years as industrial scientist. They are in fact a quite valuable body of knowledge. In some cases they are the only published information on how a technology is actually practiced, as opposed to academic papers which look cute but don't tell you how to do anything in a size greater than one liter.

Worth It? For Who? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443855)

If we're talking about consumers and society in general, than the short answer is "NO"... The long answer is also "NO," but prefaced with a long string of expletives.

Now, if we're asking whether or not patent trolling is worth the effort for those who engage in it... I don't know, but I assume they wouldn't be involved in these patent wars of attrition if there was no benefit to be found.


Hey, there's a thought: Somebody go patent the process of suing people over patents, that should fix it...

It's not about the money (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#40443863)

Would it be more economic for both companies to live and let live, or is there value to be captured in legal finger pointing?

I would be willing to wager that the majority of patent litigation stems from a combination of arrogance and machismo. The exception would be patent trolls, which are leeches on the skin of innovation.

It is about crushing your competition (2)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444043)

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.

It has nothing to do with PR. It has everything to do with frightening your competitors and locking new entrants out of the marketplace. These IPO litigations are expensive. On a slightly deeper level they are about trying to establish revenue streams based around licensing agreements.

90/10 rule (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444261)

90 percent of the time it is better for the people to just not fight it. The problem is, once you do that:

1) Other people notice and start taking advantage of it.

2) The courts notice and say you gave up your patent rights.

3) 10% of the time it IS relevant - and people get screwed over for millions of dollars. Significant examples are the 'intermittent windshield wiper' story. (wikipedia it) or the MANY many Thomas Edison patent cases - most of which make Thomas Edison look like a second place man. (Motion Camera stuff for example).

The value of Patents (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444385)

Patents only have value with corporate entities. The value lies in the "legal leveraging" over the competition. Period.

For the average person a patent is mostly worthless. If someone with more money can survive you in a legal battle, they'll drag you through the courts till you give up, or are broke.

Hopefully this is changing.

Don Lancaster's writings on Patents (2)

xtronics (259660) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444665)

A patent is a license to enrich ones lawyer. - kps

Once you read Don's writings on this topic - there isn't much left to be said.

See:
http://www.google.com/cse?cx=003767467503737118174%3Aw_hild2gcro&q=patents&sa=Search+Guru's+Lair&cof=FORID%3A0#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=patents&gsc.page=1 [google.com]

Not PR (1)

countach (534280) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444757)

It's nothing to do with PR, that's for sure. It's never good PR. It's about competitors trying to get one over on the opposition. Sometimes by stopping them shipping, and sometimes by making them pay through the nose for it. Trying to make it more complicated than that is a waste of time.

Prisoner's Dilemma (3, Interesting)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40444821)

In many ways, patent wars resemble a version of the Prisoner's Dilemma.

If both companies sue each other for patent infringement, they both lose. If neither company sued the other, they would have a pleasant status quo. But if just one company sued the other, they would win big.

Although both players know that they'd be better off if they didn't play, it is literally a logical certainty that they have to sue each other.

I'm not sure how "make a cross licensing agreement and move on" fits into a classic Prisoner's Dilemma, but why let real life complications get in the way of a good philosophy metaphor.

Re:Prisoner's Dilemma (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445235)

It's not quite a prisoner's dilemma because the choice by one actor is typically countered by the other. In the PD, the dilemma is whether to act first, i.e., whether to rat out the other, because if you act first, then the punishment is small relative to the other person acting first. Both parties are good if neither acts.

In this case, if one patent holder sues another the other just counter sues.

If you wanted to make a PD case, it would be for whether industry participants seek patents at all. If no one patents, everyone is free to compete. If only one party patents, or gets a huge patent headstart, the non-patenting entity is going to be defenseless. If both parties patent, both will have patent expenses, but a tool to prevent the other from suing them (mostly in the form of "mutual assured destruction").

Examined from that perspective, you might also see that the parties have another reason to both patent: market exclusion or increasing the barriers to new market participants.

"1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a patent-war, (2)

McDrewbs (2434030) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445159)

5, 6, 7, 8, I know how to litigate."
I think that also shows what I feel the maturity level of these "patent wars" are.

I lead the innovation! (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445197)

I invented Rounded Corner Rectangles by Think(ing) Different(ly)

Everyone knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40445243)

The first step in problem solving is to find someone to blame.

Good PR, that's a laugh (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#40445949)

Winning these cases is PR that says, we are the leaders in smartphone technology, we are the innovators.

No, it's PR that says, we are fucking douchebags, we hate competition. Apple has a few parties that eat that up, but that's about it. That crowd tends to take most anything Apple does as good news, though.

Patent Bubble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40446661)

*POP*

What price tag? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448163)

Its just passed down to the consumers anyway, so why should they care?

Its about long term control vs short term profits (1)

davydagger (2566757) | more than 2 years ago | (#40448671)

Its less about making money in the short term, and more about eliminating competition, and sending a message to future would be competitors than short term profits.

So if apple beats samsung or vice versa, its a warning to smaller companies not to try and compete with the big boys, otherwise lawyers will just flat out steal everything they have, legally. Its a prelude to extortion via reputation. Patent wars have devolved to the level of street gangs.

From another angle... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449251)

A fight between huge players like Apple and Samsung serves to scare any new players from entering the market... These big companies know how to deal with other big companies, what they are most scared of is new, innovative and nimble upstarts.

Cost vs Potential Benefit (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449383)

Let P be the probability that either Apple or Samsung "wins" the patent war. In this case "winning" would be any market outcome that, due to the litigation, is substantially better than what would otherwise have been achieved through more conventional means such as advertising, features and price competition. The probability of losing then is 1 - P. Let cost of litigation be C and amount of winnings be W. Now, what will be the expected "winnings" for a party involved in the patent war? It would be as follows:

Expected Winnings = P * W - C * (1 - P)

As long as the expected winnings of continuing the litigation remain positive compared to the alternatives of either settlement or reversion to straight competition, the parties are likely to continue until, one way or another, the courts force them to stop. The smartphone and tablet markets are absolutely enormous in size worldwide. They are a very significant "prize" to any company which can capture and retain a commanding share. Given that companies like Samsung and Apple maintain lawyers and law firms on salary and retainer (a sunk cost) and the potentially enormous benefits of winning, even a small chance of winning is likely to make continuing the fight worthwhile for both sides.

To make a long answer short: The stakes are too high and the costs to low, relatively speaking, for either Apple or Samsung to fold before the river card is dealt and the final betting begins. Obviously, both companies believe that they have a strong hand.

Patently Absurd... (1)

Julz (9310) | more than 2 years ago | (#40449389)

This has got to be a segway for making a movie. Lets see that would be John Cleese, Jack Black, Clint Eastwood and Hugh Grant.
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