*This is a 3-Part article on IP disputes. The first part talks about the rationale behind IP disputes, the second talks about current legal battles between Apple and Samsung, and the third talks about cross-licensing.
For the global electronics industry in the past, patent infringement was not an issue. Ramp up the design factor, appeal to customers, create a feel that was different from other - and the software, or how much of the technology was 'theirs' was not significant.
Que in smartphones... and other devices dubbed “smart". We are now entangled in all kinds of patent disputes, whether it involves core technology, the look, the touch, and even the 'feel' of gadgets.
According to a Seoul-based patent attorney, the number of patent infringement claims filed in America totaled up to 2,500 cases in the first quarter of this year, up to March 1.
Considering that the figure of patent infringement claims were just over 3,000 up until 2011, the trend is on a sharp rise.
What is the rationale behind the disputes? Well, there are many reasons why such cases involved IP violations. With smart gadgets, there is a variety of features, including those that carry patents filed by those who claim it be their own.
A Munich-based intellectual property analyst, Florian Mueller said that “Today’s smartphones and tablet PCs are multifunctional devices that incorporate numerous technologies. In the field of technology, there are countless numbers of patents. We’re seeing the phenomenon of convergence with several industries that used to operate independently ― mobile phones, consumer electronics, computer hardware, software and the Internet ― merging into one mega industry, in which major participants use intellectual property as one of the various ways to fight for market share.”
Then there is also the rise of patent trolls - intellectual ventures that do not manufacture devices but form a consortium with a strong patent portfolio to collect royalties. This also contributed to the increase. These are non-practical entities in the industry. The problem is that the company that they claim against cannot make countermoves because there is nothing to attack them with, for they only have patents and not actual products.
This will be continued in to Part II.