The Patent Minefield

This is ridiculous:

This is a diagram depicting the patent licensing and litigations that has taken place due to Google’s Android operating system. Just recently Microsoft has taken aggressive actions to further pursue its patent litigation and licensing. It has been concluded that Microsoft makes more money from Android than from its own Windows Phones, due to its patent litigation and licensing. This further proves that my research topic, Patent Reform, is one of the most important topics in todays technology field.

Most people see this chart and think, “Well ya, these companies shouldn’t be infringing on Microsofts patents, Microsoft invented it, they should have the rights to it.” But, lets look at some of the patents that Android is infringing upon. Microsoft holds this patent, which covers adding a contact, via your call history. So when someone calls you and after you hang up you want to add them to your contacts, that functionality belongs to Microsoft. So when Android adds that functionality, they are infringing on that patent. Microsoft also holds patents to notifications and pop-up menus. The list goes on and on but the point is, today, whenever you create anything in technology, you are going to infringe on one or more patents. Its like trying to cross a minefield with a steam roller, you are going to hit something.

This is a rough deal for technology companies who end up paying a lot of their revenue to patent holding companies in licensing fees or legal fees. This increases the cost of the products we buy and also increases the cost of innovation. As Google said in their recent blog post, “Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android,” this war, and many others like it need to be stopped by patent reform.

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4 Responses to The Patent Minefield

  1. Cander says:

    Interesting topic and I must say the overly formal name of the Patent Apps amused me.

    But what are you thinking we change? Is it just how many things can be patented? You can’t really make a designation between a feature of the phone and say a physical design in terms of what be patented. And there needs to be some type of protection to ensure that every phone is an iPhone knockoff.

  2. jwhite17 says:

    I agree that the current patent system is ridiculous. I know that we need patents in order to spur motivation, but there definitely has to be a line drawn somewhere. Under the current system the legal costs are incredible, and the economic effects are palpable. Apple and Microsoft have been using patent litigation for the main purpose of hampering competition. I’m not sure what the proper reform should be, as I’m not entirely familiar with the patent system, but they should not be used solely as a method of extorting money or hampering competition.
    Mark Cuban agrees:

  3. knriggins says:

    I totally agree! Some of the things they have a patent on are ridiculous. A patent for adding a contact after a phone call, really?! Also great comment about steamrolling through a minefield, I think that sums it up pretty well. In honor of this post I wanted to post this article in BusinessWeek of the 32 most ridiculous patents in the past decade. Some of them are truly absurd.My favorite is the Plumber-Chic Pants! Check it out.

  4. Jordi says:

    Without patents and a vigorous intellectual property system, you will have anarchy adn no one will invest in innovation.

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