Who Are The Real Losers In Patent Lawsuits? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
8/30/2011
11:50 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
50%
50%

Who Are The Real Losers In Patent Lawsuits?

While the mobile industry's patent litigation frenzy is amusing to watch, the side effects to consumers, developers, and enterprises are not so funny.

If you were to pick any one company that has significant mobile phone sales, it is highly likely that company is involved in a lawsuit with one or more of its competitors over patent infringement claims. The costs to these companies can be quite high, and if a ruling goes against one of them, it could be devastating to the business, to the point of shutting it down. At the very least, it is costing money and a distraction to management. The effects go beyond company borders though.

End users pay a price as well. A company has finite resources, and dollars spent on anything not core to the business are taking resources away from the product, be it a platform or phone hardware. That means innovation, reliability, and performance all take a hit.

For the average consumer, the effect is relatively small. But consider the software developer. The lack of innovation in the platform, bugs that go unfixed, and performance that's below par can have a significant impact on a company writing software for a mobile platform. On top of that, they run the risk of developing for a platform that could be sued out of existence or its global distribution curbed in some way.

A Dutch court recently ruled that Samsung's Galaxy smartphones running Android 2.3 cannot be sold in Europe. That will impact sales of software to some degree. You have to assume that some of those sales will go to other platforms.

The best defense for a developer is to spread yourself around and not concentrate on one platform.

Enterprises run similar risks. They are like a super consumer, buying not one, but hundreds or thousands of devices. The last thing an IT administrator wants to read in the morning RSS feed is the platform and model he has chosen to support has lost a major suit. Results could be from the mildly annoying task of updating devices to comply with the patent issue to transitioning to something else.

No matter how solid the company is, or how bulletproof you think the platform is from patent infringement issues, it makes sense for developers to invest in multiple technologies. Unless you are developing line-of-business apps, which is costly to do across multiple platforms, most smartphones today can connect to the email server and share documents. That is really what most corporate users engage in anyway. That, and Angry Birds, which is also available on most platforms.

Are any of the companies you deal with under fire right now? Fierce Wireless has a great graphic, provided by Verizon, to show how the lawsuit market looks today.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
News
Northwestern Mutual CIO: Riding Out the Pandemic
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/7/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Slideshows
Flash Poll