If you work in the technology industry you may be aware of the importance of patenting your designs. Patenting your designs ensures that no one else can copy your technology without authorisation.
The underlying premise being that rewarding innovative creations incentivises more innovation and more value for consumers.
But what about when strict patent laws stifle future innovation and small business? This is exactly what the US Supreme Court is deciding in the patent battle between Samsung and Apple.
Samsung VS. Apple
Samsung lost a patent dispute in court against Apple over the copying of iPhone technology and was forced to pay $548 million in damages. Now that Samsung is appealing the case in the US Supreme Court, legal experts, tech giants and non-profits are coming out in support of Samsung.
Technology companies Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprises and Facebook have made their support of Samsung against Apple public.
In “friend-of-the-court” briefs made public on Monday, the companies warned of the consequences of a ruling against Samsung. They argued that a ruling against Samsung would lead to ‘absurd results’ and have a negative effect on companies because of the long-term impact of how patent law is applied to technology product such as smartphones. Samsung has already had to pay Apple for more than $500 million for patent violations and may even incur more penalties.
Samsung asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in December. Samsung wanted to give America’s highest court an opportunity to weigh in on perhaps the most high-profile tech showdown in recent memory.
Electronic Frontier Foundations warned in a brief that if the Supreme Court verdict was allowed to stand, it would open the doors to a new species of abusive patent litigation.
What it Means for Small Business
Samsung backers argue that permitting “exorbitant” damages in design patent cases risks making Internet access unaffordable. They argue it will have a hindering effect on minorities and rural entrepreneurs to create and develop businesses, thereby stifling their ability to empower themselves and their communities.
Apple, unsurprisingly, has continued to argue that the courts have made the right decision, claiming it provided clear evidence that Samsung blatantly copied iPhone and iPad technology in the development of its smartphones and tablets.
Are strict patent laws good for innovation?
Protecting valuable technology from being copied incentivises people to create technology that other people can use and benefit from. On the other hand, providing too much protection disincentives people from building off the work of others to innovate and create something even better.
One thing is for sure. The outcome of the battle between Samsung and Apple will have a defining impact on future technology development.
Let us know your thoughts on the legal issues surrounding the Samsung vs Apple patent battle by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.