The War of Patents

By Trisha Pragya, Content Writer, Siliconindia   |   Thursday, 11 October 2018, 07:30 Hrs
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Why Intellectual Property is Most Valuable Asset for your Business!!

In today’s knowledge-based economy, your ideas are some of your most valuable business assets. Whether you’re an inventor or an entrepreneur, it’s essential to understand various forms of intellectual property (IP) like patent & trademarks, copyright and industrial design, to save your precious business assets. Preferably, every enterprise that involve in inventive activities need to consult patent databases to search existing technologies, identify licensing partners in case a technology already exists and avoid duplication of research activities. However, it’s important to acquire IP because a failure to do so can put businesses at risk. “Before launching a product, businesses should assure that the product does not use third party patents. And if it does use third party patents, change design/process/material in order to avoid third party patents, or seek license from patent owner, or build a patent portfolio that it used by third parties to deter them from approaching you,” professes Vaibhav Khanna, Head of Intellectual Property, Sterlite Technologies.


With the 21st century marching on and technology becoming ever more ubiquitous for consumers and businesses, it’s not surprising that enterprises are seeking patent protection for their intellectual property (IP) in order to prevent it from attack by other patent holders. IP laws have expanded throughout the globe, and a broad range of creations and realms of human experience have been cordoned off, with legal fences being put around the sharing of innovations and cultural practices. Despite of this, today, product makers accuse patent owners of using the threat of lawsuits to demand extortionate royalties for their patent rights and refuse to pay fair compensation for their patented products. Unlike in the real property business, in IP licensing there is negligible or no independent appraisal of the assets (patents), almost no transparency as to how prices are determined and few ground rules for what constitute fair negotiating practices between buyers & sellers. This in turns results in ugly property right war between patent owners and product makers revolving around the sharing of innovations & cultural practices wherein these wars have lasted for years and have benefited none.

Here we bring three of the ugliest patent conflicts fought or being fought between major companies in the technology industry:-

Qualcomm & Apple 

Year: 2016

The patent war between Qualcomm and Apple is currently heating with court hearings in the U.S. and Europe that may result in import bans on some of the iPhone models. In the initial case, the chipmaker claimed that Apple is violating three patents regarding power management, graphics processing and radio voltage administration in iPhones and even pilfering its property by declining to hand over wage for technologies that the remaining industry values and pays for. Qualcomm strives to restrict the sales of iPhone 7 and 8 models in the U.S. comprising of  cellular radio chips from Intel and are used on T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s networks but not seeking to ban the phone models that contain its own cellular chips and run on Verizon’s and Sprint’s networks. On the other hand, the iPhone maker has argued that Qualcomm exploits its ownership of patents which cover the basics of how modern smartphones communicate to extract unfairly high payments and coerce it into buying chips. The dispute shows no sign of ending by mutual understanding.

Apple vs. Samsung:

Year: 2011

One of the biggest battles in patent infringement started with Apple filing a suit against Samsung alleging that it has copied Bounce-Back Effect, Tap to Zoom and other features of Apple’s iPhones  in some of its Android-powered phones and tablets. This seven-year long legal fight settledin June 2018 where a jury edicted Samsung to pay Apple $539 million for infringing on its patents. In 2011, Apple first
acquitted Samsung for replicating the design of the iPhone, kicking off a winding series of countersuits, trials and appeals, including a stop at the Supreme Court in 2016. With two of global industries biggest players fighting over one of history’s most successful products, the case was one of the most closely watched legal fights in modern business.

Google vs. Microsoft

Year: 2010

A five-year patent battle between Google and Microsoft ended in Sept 2015 where both the enterprises decided to drop around 20 lawsuits in the US and Germany. They have been fighting since 2010 over royalties related to technology in the Xbox game console and smartphones from Motorola Mobility, which Google owned up until January 2014, when it sold off the division to Lenovo, but kept many of its patents. The financial deal was not disclosed but totally 18 lawsuits had been activated between both companies regarding usage of technologies in mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other areas. Under this agreement, they dismissed all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola mobility, and collaborated on certain patent matters and anticipated working together as one entity to benefit customers.

In above aforementioned patent wars companies end-up spending a lot more money in defending against other firms and miss out on commercial opportunities. They even faced heavy loss in their revenue in form of dispute settlement amount and ban on their products which not only affect their share price in stock market but also their growth rate and RoI.

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