Patent thickets – the driving force behind the patent wars in the mobile telecommunications sector
In the mobile telecoms sector, a war is going on. You will have heard of the ongoing patent litigation between the likes of Apple and Samsung, as well as others in the mobile communications industry. Apple say both HTC and Samsung are copying them. Samsung have retaliated by suing Apple. But this is only one side of the story.
The real driving force behind these legal disputes are what’s called ‘patent thickets’.
In effect, these are the stacks of licensed patents that each company has. In technology sectors globally, companies are racing to have the most patents in their particular industry. If they are a leader in this field, they get paid by their competitors to access their portfolio. The more patents you have, the bigger the payments.
Professor Stefan Wagner, of the European School of Management and Technology, says the battle for tech patents is spiralling out of control. As he puts it “If there is no reform of the patent system, we will see more and more lawsuits in both the telecoms industry and beyond.”