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. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 6 Mar 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Smartphone lawsuits

    Excellent article, and I agree wholeheartedly. As an IP (aka "patent") attorney, I continue to believe small entity patenting does much good, and helps our economy by encouraging innovation.
    Large entity patenting (to most folks, "patenting", which does more to show how ignorant the public is of such things than anything else!) is EVIL, and needs to be curbed (or even, as Mike has suggested, abolished!).
    The same is true of large entity trademarking, and certainly of large entity copyright - EVIL!
    Unfortunately large entities have more money - who ever heard of a small entity buying a politician?

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