Smartphone Patents: Importance for Brands

By : |January 25, 2019 0

Think patents and smartphones and the first thing that still comes to mind are the infamous Smartphone Patent Wars which dominated the world of technology until only very recently. Apple and Samsung led the charge with a bitter feud that lasted for almost a decade, ending only after the two behemoth companies reached a resolution of sorts in the form of a legal settlement which apparently cost Samsung a small fortune. While this may be a portent for a more cohesive and peaceful environment for smartphone patent filings, the war is far from over. Companies like Sony Mobile, Google, Apple Inc., Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Huawei, LG Electronics, ZTE, HTC and many more are still fighting tooth and nail over the licensing and patent litigation. The problem becomes an even more convoluted one to solve because an invention such as a smartphone involves numerous patents, sometimes running into hundreds or more. This makes the damage caused by any infringer particularly severe and detrimental to the market share for competitors.

But there is something to be said about the proverbial silver lining amidst all of this mayhem. The unprecedented pace at which innovation has advanced for smartphones can be attributed to these intense patent wars to some degree. Everyone wants to be the first to lay claim on the ultimate game changing technology in smartphones. No one wants to be left behind. The necessity of most of these “revolutionary ideas” in smartphones is a matter of legitimate concern. Does the world really need a phone with a “penta-lens” camera or an audio system having Dolby Atmos theatre quality? While this is a longer discussion that deserves a lengthy report of its own, the point is clear. The age of the smartphone is going to go down in history as the single most important and prolonged technological event of our time, with enough collateral damage to affect all the generations to come.

Then there are the naysayers who constantly argue against the advantage of filing patents, positing that technology is in fact made more exclusive and high-priced by too many patent filings. The truly motivated of these critics have even found ways to support their arguments using numbers and statistics. According to them, patent royalties and incentives have a possibility of declining owing to the increasing cost of engaging in legal battles over patent licenses. However, the staggering number of patents in the domain of smartphones has created an environment of scepticism even among them.

One must also bear in mind that the world of smartphones today is so rife with claims of infringement and unlawful practices that it has truly become difficult to tell fact from fiction. The honest protests of breach of patent laws can go on in the court of justice for just as long as the inauthentic ones, owing to the intricate myriad of patents involved in any given smartphone. In addition to that, millions and millions of dollars are put into these legal contests, with virtually no end in sight. This goes on to show, that large companies are willing to bleed in the present, if necessary, for the benefit of having a technological stronghold in the IP domain later.

The importance of building a robust reservoir of patent filings has very well been realised by everyone involved. That is primarily because smartphones today are being used to achieve a multitude of things, starting from medical aid to home safety. Patents provide a sure shot way of safeguarding these ground-breaking technological marvels, which can allow them to flourish in the market later on and benefit mankind at large. From the current standpoint, no other method is more effective for inventors to put their ideas in the public domain without the fear of losing their rights. The downside to the current scenario is that it is becoming more and more difficult for newer competitors to make a place for themselves in this market, who might not have the kind of financial resilience required to fight the legal battles one is sure to get embroiled in sooner or later.

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