This Is What A Patent Thicket Looks Like [Updated]

from the visualization-works dept

A couple weeks ago, we asked if any smartphone could survive the patent thicket. In the last few months there has been a ton of lawsuits (and ITC filings) over smartphones supposedly violating patents. And since that post was written a few more lawsuits were filed as well. It's patent nuclear war breaking out in the smartphone space, and the end result is that we, the public, all suffer. Lots of money is being spent on lawsuits, and that could have gone into better development and giving us more features, better prices and better service.

Of course, while I described this in words, sometimes, as the cliche goes, a picture is worth a lot more. Thanks to Nick Bilton at the NY Times for putting together that picture (see update below) that shows what the patent thicket in the smartphone space looks like:
That's a picture of a patent thicket, and it's a picture of waste that does the exact opposite of promoting innovation.

Update: Unfortunately, it looks like Bilton may have exaggerated a bit. Joe Mullin looks through the details and notices that some of the lawsuits appear totally unrelated to the smartphone space. As he notes, there are plenty of smartphone patent lawsuits to go around, but there's no need to exaggerate them.
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Filed Under: patent thicket, patents, smartphones


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  1. icon
    Pirate Hater (profile), 5 Mar 2010 @ 9:10pm

    Patent Thicket or Pirate Cove?

    Let's not forget that most of us wouldn't have the slightest idea of how to build a cell phone. Indeed, 20 years ago, there weren't really many cellphones at all.

    There has been true innovation and invention that has enabled this industry. Of that, there can be no question.

    And, those who invented those true, enabling inventions deserve credit, respect, and strong patent rights.

    Those who violate those rights and that respect are the ones who deserve disrespect, not the inventors and their lawyers.

    To portray someone who invented, for example, an important new computer chip that advances cell phone technology as simply a 'troll' who contributes nothing but frivilous litigation to the economy is rude, to say the least, and more to the point, very disingenuous, disrespectful, and obnoxious.

    Those who seek to advance the cause of piracy by weakening patents, labeling inventors as 'trolls', and otherwise devalue the work of scientific advancement are the low lives of society, not the inventors.

    Is it any wonder that the US is falling behind in science, when smart, diligent people are bullied throughout their lives ... first in grade school, and then right on up through to their days as inventors, there are bullies out there seeking to put them down, for no reason other than lifting their own, less-skilled selves up.

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