November 14, 2012
Larry Elder, the well-known TV personality with conservative political columnist and libertarian, was expressing a popularly held opinion of the time when he said ‘Outsourcing and globalization of manufacturing allows companies to reduce costs, benefits consumers with lower cost goods and services, causes economic expansion that reduces unemployment, and increases productivity and job creation.’ But, as events turned out, the picture has not all been very rosy. American labor suffered the most from outsourcing as they were left without jobs and the skills which could provide them with an alternative career, making many wonder if a local outlook would have been more beneficial than a global one!
While many companies benefited from the labor cost savings associated with offshoring, many are finding that the bed of roses they made for themselves, through outsourcing, had actually concealed some thorns – in the form of patent infringement.
Some Patent Facts:
Litigation over a patent infringement would cover anyone who manufactures, imports, uses, sells, or offers for sale patented technology without permission/license from the patentee, during the term of the patent and within the country that issued the patent. Patents are territorial, and require the country to recognize it, to be enforced. So, enforcing even a granted patent is not possible at all times and in all the countries of the world. It is possible for someone in another country to freely make and market a product patented in the USA without obtaining a license.
Apple (USA) vs. Samsung (South Korea): For more than a year, the epic battle of these two business partners (and rivals) over patent infringement has been played out over 4 continents.Apple contends that Samsung has copied some of the features of its innovative products – the iPad and the iPhone!
- A court in Tokyo ruled that there was no infringement. Apple has now appealed.
- A court in California awarded over $1 billion to Apple.
- Samsung targeted Apple’s latest iPhone 5 in a countersuit claim.
- Apple’s efforts to continue the sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy tab ceased in the US and UK while German, Australian and Dutch courts upheld Apple’s claim to ban Samsung sales.
- Samsung managed to block iPhone sales in France and Italy by securing injunctions first.
- A court in South Korea had also found in favor of Samsung.
Considering that the two companies are vying for high stakes in a smartphone market estimated at $219 billion, this battle may result in a lot of angst and ulcers on both sides before it draws to an end. Apple is also battling over patent issues with Motorola Mobility and HTC.
BT vs. Google: Adding to the existing patent attacks on Android by Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others, UK’s telecom group BT is suing Google in the US over claims that six of its patents have been infringed by technologies at the core of Google’s Android mobile system, search site, and a wide range of other services. BT is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against Google’s continued use of its innovations.
Microsoft vs. Barnes & Noble: Microsoft claimed patent infringement against Barnes & Noble, creators of the Nook and Nook Color e-readers, as well as the manufacturers of those devices Foxconn and Inventec. Google promptly called it a sweeping claim, threatening to software innovation.
This list is just an illustrative one and is by no means comprehensive – and throws light on the vast possibility of many more such pitched battles – to be played on the global arena, to control markets, by country or continent.
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.