Within the technology realm, patents lead to wars as we saw with an ongoing struggle between Apple and Samsung over multiple alleged patent infringements. Microsoft, last week ended on a high note when the US Trade Commission decided Microsoft was free to continue selling smartphones in the United States. This came after resolving an 8 year old lawsuit from a company by the name of InterDigital, a wireless tech company that doesn’t manufacture any hardware or release any software. InterDigital is what’s known as a patent license company, basically a company which holds patents in certain technologies, licensing technology to manufacturers for a fee. InterDigital holds over 2000 patents both in the US and abroad. Companies of this nature have been described as “patent trolls” by Business Insider, among others.
Microsoft has just escaped an accusation from InterDigital of using InterDigital technology to improve wireless connectivity in their smartphones. The ramifications, had the Trade Commission decided Microsoft had infringed upon an InterDigital patent, would have been an import ban on Microsoft products that allegedly contain patented technology; in this case, mostly mobile phones. For Microsoft, a hit to their ability to sell smartphones in the US could possibly have put their already dwindling market share of smartphones in an even worse position, even though it looks as though Microsoft is moving towards changing their presence in the smartphone market, mainly by targeting the enterprise audience.
Recent estimates show that Microsoft devices only account for 3% share in the global smartphone market. Back in July, Microsoft’s handset business went into a loss while incurring costs amounting to $7.5 billion.
An import ban is the usual action sought by patent licensing companies when filing a patent infringement suit as well as compensation for the unlicensed technologies used in a product. It is up to you to decide whether they are trolls or not, but it looks as though Microsoft will cross the bridge this time.
Let us know you’re thoughts on patent licensing companies in the comments below, or on social media!Source: Bidness Etc.
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