This profusion of patent disputes is one of the hottest issues in the smartphone market now as top device makers have taken to competing in the courts as well as on technology. (See Wireless Competition's Courtside Seats and Handset Makers Air Patent Grievances.)
And as the legal onslaughts rage, the race is on for smartphone makers to acquire as many patents as possible to protect themselves from legal action, levy fees against competitors and stay a step ahead of patent trolls. With Apple and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) having cash piles of $76.2 billion and nearly $40 billion, respectively, it's no wonder that companies like InterDigital Inc. (Nasdaq: IDCC) and Motorola Mobility LLC are considering how to make the most from their increasingly valuable patent holdings. (See Moto Vs. Icahn 2: The Hunt for Patent Gold and InterDigital Mulls Sale.)
Here are the latest maneuvers in the global smartphone patent spats: They say
High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) has taken its legal wrangles with Apple to the U.K., reports ZDNet. The move is retaliatory and comes after HTC lost a decision at the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in a case that Apple brought against it. In a preliminary ruling, the ITC said that HTC infringed on two of Apple's patents. (See Apple Wins Patent Victory Over HTC.)
In Australia, Apple has succeeded in delaying Samsung Corp. 's launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until the Korean device maker can win court approval to do so or the two companies resolve their patent dispute, reports Bloomberg.
The FOSS patents blog notes that Apple has opposed Samsung's motion to disqualify Apple's external lawyers in a case at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Samsung thinks there is a conflict of interest because some of the lawyers working for Apple on this case have represented Samsung in the past.
Meanwhile, here's the latest on the attempts by Google and smartphone makers to beef up their patent portfolios:
- The Unwired View blog muses that Google should just buy Motorola Mobility to solve all its Android patent problems.
- Samsung is now reportedly interested in buying InterDigital Inc. (Nasdaq: IDCC), along with Apple and Google.
- Google acquired about 1,000 patents from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).
- The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly increasing scrutiny of the $4.5 billion sale of Nortel's 6,000 patents to the Rockstar consortium that includes Apple, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), BlackBerry and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE). (See Done Deal for Nortel Patents? )
These smartphone patent disputes are more than just distraction techniques that companies employ to deter competitors from product development. The outcomes of certain court cases can have significant financial consequences for the losers, can affect the pricing of smartphones -- depending on what new royalties can be extracted from competitors -- and can have implications for the development of certain handset features.
For more on the latest patent drama, check out these stories:
- Apple, Google Seek Patent Shields
- Nortel Patent Sale Closes
- What About AlcaLu's Patents?
- Apple Sues Samsung for iCopying
- InterDigital Sues Nokia, Huawei, ZTE
- Samsung Tries to Block Apple Sales in the US
- Apple Sues Moto
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile