Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




And, In Conclusion, We Also Just Don't Like Them

from the how-about-competing? dept

Remember the days when competition meant that you fought your competitors out in the market for customers, and you won them over by, you know, offering a better product or deal (or at least convincing customers that was so)? These days, it seems like everyone just wants a monopoly, and the best way to do that is to compete in the courtroom rather than the market. Engadget highlights the ongoing legal battle between GPS navigator makers Garmin and TomTom. It appears that the two companies already have a bunch of patent lawsuits filed against each other in an ongoing attempt to waste plenty of money in court. However, the latest is that, on top of all of the patent disputes (and there are many), TomTom has filed another lawsuit against Garmin not for patent infringement, but for "copying the look and feel of its devices." They're navigation devices. How much variation does anyone really expect? Of course, they're going to look vaguely similar. Why not just compete on actual features, benefits and value? Apparently that's just too hard. Next thing you know, the pizza place down the street will sue the one around the corner for copying its triangular shaped slice idea. It's a big market out there, and there's plenty to compete on. Wasting each others' time and money in court doesn't help anyone (other than the lawyers, of course).

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  • identicon
    Steve E, 17 Oct 2006 @ 10:37am

    Sometimes wiping out your competitors gives you a better position in the market than coming up with the 'next big thing'. Easy to see why these companies are at loggerheads.

    That's not to say I condone these practices, but it is natural and won't stop happening. Apple/Creative have been at it for ages over the navigation system in MP3 players too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      BS, 17 Oct 2006 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      Great insight ... remove the competiiton and you have more of the market? Really?

      And i would not say it's natural ... the only thing natural is eating / sleeping and, well, a couple of other things .... it is probably less costly (in their minds) to try and build a monopoly through a catalogue of patents then to compete with smart (ehtical) business moves.

      I think it's cowardly, and exposes them as lazy. But then again, where is the line between stealling and competing? see Microsoft's Zune ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TriZz, 17 Oct 2006 @ 11:11am

    I'm changing my occupation...

    ...from geek to patent attorney.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2006 @ 11:14am

    This is so asinine. Why don't XM and sirius have the same problems (maybe they do and I missed it)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2006 @ 11:20am

    XM and Sirius dont have the revenue to waist on this as of now and I do believe they are joining forces to try to save them selves

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      A Man, 17 Oct 2006 @ 2:17pm

      Re:

      by Anonymous Coward on Oct 17th, 2006 @ 11:20am
      XM and Sirius dont have the revenue to waist on this as of now and I do believe they are joining forces to try to save them selves

      Why don't you try to spell properly.
      More to the point, why don't you just shut the fuck-up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Excellent Point, 17 Oct 2006 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      Exactly... they need to expand the entire category. If satellite radio doesn't grow as a category, both XM and Sirius will be SOL.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    iRule, 17 Oct 2006 @ 11:23am

    With the pizza analogy....
    That actually happened. Lil Caesars actually sued Pizza Hut and Dominos Pizza (unsuccessfully) when both competitors initially came out with square shaped pizza pieces. This happens. You'd certainly hope it would drive innovation, but sometimes it just drives up court costs, the cost of operating businesses, and the costs passed on to the consumers. Terrible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Portigal, 17 Oct 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Missing the point

    Wait, so any two things that perform the same function can't have unique design features? Sennheiser can't sue Shure, because "they're both microphones, how different could their look and feel be?" Ford can't sue Mazda because "they're both cars, how different could their look and feel be?" What about eCommerce sites, ATMs, portable music players? Don't they have brand-specific, designed identities and approaches to performing their tasks? Comes off a bit like just bluster without thought, and it's disappointing because I really enjoy and appreciate your attitude most of the time. Here it reads as if you are putting that ahead of some actual analysis. Is the litigation winnable? I have no clue - maybe you guys do - but are those products very very confusable from a form factor and especially interface point of view, absolutely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mad Troller, 17 Oct 2006 @ 2:32pm

    Another Waste of Breath

    Sounds reminiscent of Apple and Microsoft when MS went to GUI with "desktop" concept. And now we are all stuck in a MS world that continues to ratchet down on us with things like license management... it is ok to copy files so long as you have paid extra for their device - whatever! So what's next... pay for internet content based on subject? This might seem off-subject, but it all goes back to Microsoft and Wal-Mart driving out the competition and building their monopoly! Let's all get smart and not be caught standing in line like starving refugees - spend a few extra dollars, suck up the crappy quality, and buy from the competitor. hehe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Annoying Bastard, 17 Oct 2006 @ 4:58pm

      Re: Another Waste of Breath

      " ...spend a few extra dollars, suck up the crappy quality, and buy from the competitor. hehe."

      You must be a mac user.

      I think companies should start doing really petty things in these IP battles; like remove all the locations of stores that only sell their competitors products from their databases.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sohrab, 17 Oct 2006 @ 4:01pm

    wow. this article makes me sick

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    waban star, 30 Jul 2007 @ 7:34am

    Tom Tom units were much better designed from an aesthetic standpoint and it was obvious that as well that garmin copied the tom tom look and feel. The real question is who has the better electronics or software.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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