In the highly-competitive technology sector, competition is intense. The biggest firms are constantly jostling to try and make the next must-have gadget, futuristic smartphone or smart TV, but in doing so they occasionally tread on each other’s’ toes, which can often lead to expensive lawsuits.
We’ll be the judge of that…
The recent case between Motorola and Apple over smartphone patent infringements has seen a Florida court intervene, saying that both are using lawsuits as part of their strategy to take on the competition. Patent cases are very difficult to resolve and can get very messy if they’re dragged out.
Patents are extremely valuable and some firms behind them are determined to protect themselves from being dragged into long and expensive cases. Google are a prime example and took the odd measure of donating cloud storage patents to guard against the threat of being sued by a rival tech giant.
On the defensive
A look at the cost of recent lawsuits involving tech firms goes some way towards explaining why Google decided to donate its cloud patents. Millions and even billions of dollars have been spent on resolving conflicts between tech giants in court as well as on cases where they’ve misled consumers.
As this infographic from first4lawyers clearly illustrates, firms have to pay each other and the courts if the judge’s decision goes against them. The biggest such case involving Microsoft, who were found by the European Commission to be anti-competitive, cost them $1.4bn alone.
They also had to spend a further $1.1bn on a settlement for overcharging customers in 2003 meaning that they’re no stranger to the law courts. The biggest settlement between two firms was in the case between Samsung and Apple last summer, which weighed in at just over a billion. However such cases arise, the firms involved will be aware of how much it could set them back.