Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Innovate When You Can Litigate?

Over the past few months, I have written several blog posts about a topic that I call the "Legal Side of Innovation" and I first covered in my book, Living in the Innovation Age. The "Legal Side of Innovation" is a phenomenon in which companies are increasingly using patents and other intellectual property (IP) as a way of attacking each other in highly innovative and competitive areas such as smartphones and tablets. Essentially, IP law has become a double-edged sword that on the one hand protects an innovator's hard work and yet on the other hand creates impediments in the very road to innovation that it seeks to promote.

Now it seems that companies have learned how to use IP laws to their advantage not only as a way to stop their competitors from innovating but as a "revenue generator." Indeed, the new mantra appears to be "why innovate when you can litigate." Just recently, Samsung and HTC together have paid Microsoft $792 million in "patent royalties" in a single quarter. And in August, Apple won an overwhelming victory over rival Samsung in a widely watched federal patent battle, a decision that some worry could stymie competition. The jury, after three days of deliberations in the complex U.S. District Court trial in San Jose, awarded Apple more than $1 billion after finding that Samsung had infringed on six patents by copying the look and feel of its mobile devices.

The Bottom Line -
The "Legal Side of Innovation" is real and here to stay. So, what's a technology geek to do? One option - Consider getting a law degree instead of that PhD in rocket science or even in lieu of a plain old MBA. :)

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