The big news this week was a California court handing a massive patent victory to Apple. It finally brought mainstream attention to a problem that has been plaguing the tech world for quite a while now. There are just too many companies suing other companies over questionable patents.
Of course, you may now be wondering about the extent of the patent wars. A handy infographic from Reuters condenses it into one easy to understand image. At one time, there were 20 companies involved in patent litigation. A number of those cases, usually involving Kodak, have been resolved over the past few years.
The most interesting thing about the patent wars is that only one company has decided to license their technology out to others – Microsoft. That hasn’t spared others the wrath of the Redwood-based company though. Microsoft is currently suing Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Motorola.
In what should come as a surprise to no one, Apple is being sued the most out of any other company. They are also doing most of the suing. Of course, most of these cases are of Apple suing a company and then the other company countersuing. In total, Apple is suing four companies – Samsung, Motorola, Nokia and HTC. Their case with Nokia has been resolved, but the other three have filed countersuits against Apple. Kodak is also suing Apple, but the Cupertino-based giant hasn’t filed a countersuit.
Patent litigation is becoming more convoluted than the urban planning of Lexington, KY. The graphic from Reuters would grow even larger and more confusing if it were to include all the lawsuits from patent trolls. Even in its current state, it’s indicative of a system that’s hopelessly broken. It’s a firm reminder that patent laws need an entire reboot, instead of adjustments here and there.