Patent Wars: The Goose And The Golden Egg
The ongoing skirmishes in the raging mobile technology patent wars are starting to produce collateral damage; no longer confined to company A creating problems for company B, these battles are now directly affecting consumers.
A German court has ruled that Motorola Mobility (MMI) must recall all Android smartphones and tablets sold in that country. This is a result of part of the recent Apple/Samsung patent case settled here in the US. How on earth is that going to work, and what kind of chilling effect will that have on future sales - "Don't buy products X or Y - they may come and get them a few months later"?
At a time when the mobile industry is one of the relatively few that is doing well with gangbuster sales, it seems a shame that they appear to be trying to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Patents are of course important to protect intellectual property rights, but when technology companies make it a part of their business strategy to buy up huge blocks of patents from others just to sift through them to try to find "gotchas" on their competitors, it seems like a messy way to try to keep market share.
Should we alter the way patents are issued, or make sure that courts have technology experts available to help arbitrate the claims when they arise, or hit the infringing companies even harder to try to stifle the blatant copying of ideas? I don't have a good answer, but I can say any short-term perceived gains may give way to public alienation over the long run as this continues to drag on.