Nokia Getting Killed In The Smartphone Market... So Of Course It Sues For Patent Infringement

from the if-you-can't-innovate,-litigate dept

Funny how this works, right? Just a week or so after it's first ever quarterly loss and an admission that it totally screwed up in the smartphone market, Nokia suddenly sues Apple for patent infringement over the iPhone. It looks like the old adage is true again: if you can't innovate, litigate! It's the same story all over again. A company that was a leader in the market but got complacent and lazy, suddenly finds that it lost its lead to a more innovative upstart. Since it's so far behind, even scrambling around doesn't help it to catch up, so it just starts suing over patents.

This story nicely highlights a few other points as well. We keep hearing from patent system supporters how the patent system is necessary because, without it, the market leader would always just immediately copy the upstart and "steal" their idea. Of course, Nokia has had two plus years to "steal" Apple's idea, and where is it in the smartphone market? It's not so easy to just copy someone else's idea -- especially if you're a huge player like Nokia, who will often view the disruptive innovator as not being worthy of paying attention to (which basically was Nokia's reaction to the iPhone).

Separately, remember how confused we were when Steve Jobs proudly hyped up the fact that Apple had over 200 patents on the iPhone concept? We've pointed out that it's hardly done anything to stop lawsuits. Apple has been sued over and over and over and over and over and over again for patent infringement. Welcome to the tragedy of the anti-commons, where it becomes impossible to do pretty much anything innovative without facing massive legal costs. Basically, if you build anything even remotely innovative these days, you're going to get sued for patent infringement, probably multiple times. It's become a massive tax on innovation, rather than a lever for innovation.

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  1. identicon
    Johnny Canada, 22 Oct 2009 @ 4:12pm

    Time for Apple to pay-up.

    They where in talks with Nokia, so they must realize that Nokia has those patents.

    If you want to make a GSM phone you have to pay Nokia

    If you want to make a CDMA phone you have to pay Qualcomm

    They developed the tech and if you want to use it you pay.

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