Acacia Buys Up More Smartphone Apps Patents: Watch The Patent Thicket Get Worse
from the putting-the-brakes-on-innovation dept
Last year, I put together a graphic highlighting the ridiculous nature of the smartphone patent thicket:
Honestly, I have little interest in updating the graphic, because it was already a lot of work to put together, but it seems likely that rather than getting any better, the situation is only getting worse. We’re still waiting to see the fallout from the Nortel patent purchase, but it almost certainly will lead to more lawsuits. Separately, while the actual federal court patent trials have been moving slowly, the parallel track (with different rules!) known as the ITC loophole has been issuing new decisions every few weeks, including a big ruling for Apple saying that HTC infringed on Apple patents.
And it seems like even more patents are about to get tossed into the fray as well. Glyn Moody points us to the news that Acacia just bought “a valuable patent portfolio” relating to mobile applications for use in smartphones and other wireless computing devices. Oddly, Acacia provides no additional details. It doesn’t name who the patents came from. It says that the patents are now owned by an Acacia subsidiary, but doesn’t name the subsidiary. They’re being deliberately slimy.
But, you can rest assured that these patents will show up in litigation pretty damn quickly. There’s been a lot of concern about mobile app patents in the last few months thanks to Lodsys and Kootol… and assuming that Acacia didn’t buy out one of those two, it seems like there could be even more reasons to fear.
It’s incredibly difficult to see how anyone can claim with a straight face that the actions described here help innovation in any way. If you’re just an app developer, creating something cool for a smartphone… and you suddenly find yourself smack dab in the middle of this disaster, it’s a massive hindrance to innovation and development of useful apps. This isn’t just a “mess,” it’s a disaster for innovation.