U.S. Judge Richard Posner, who ended one among many of Apple Inc’s worldwide lawsuits, the one against Motorola Mobility, last month by rejecting the former’s request for an injunction against the latter and is now voicing his opinion on whether patents should cover most industries and the software industry in particular. He told Reuters this week that companies bank on patent litigation to harm their competitors, just to survive in the highly competitive and volatile technology industry, using wild animals that use all of their teeth and claws against each other as a metaphor.
Judge Posner, 73, teaches at the University of Chicago and has written many books, one even on economics and intellectual property rights. He also said that intellectual property rights are more necessary for certain industries, like pharmaceuticals where huge investments are required to create one successful product, as compared to software industry where inventing a new technology costs far less and companies can enjoy market share benefits even in the absence of patents. Another issue is that products like smartphones or tablet computers have numerous facets which can be patented, which becomes quite cumbersome.
The case in question commenced in 2010 when Motorola sued Apple, which was followed by counter claims by Apple. Judge Posner specially offered to oversee this particular case. He rejected Apple’s claim for an injunction banning Motorola from selling its phones by saying that this would adversely affect customers, and he was also against the idea of banning a phone based on patents for individual features. He added that Apple cannot claim to monopolise video streaming.
Posner seems to be quite sceptical about granting injunctions, as is evident from his other case handlings, like that of banning Motorola from seeking one against Apple for pledging to license its patent to other companies and in return, having the technology adopted as an industry standard.
He also said that these companies weren’t to be blamed for all the excessive courtroom drama as they are simply utilizing what the legal system has to offer. Besides, owing to the enormous cash reserves in the Silicon Valley, high legal fees are not an issue.
However, not all judges share Posner’s opinions. For instance, District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple 2 injunctions against Samsung, i.e. against the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, citing the disadvantages to Apple because of patent infringement by its competitors on the famous Siri App.