Let’s talk about innovation and why companies have thousands and thousands of patents

Let's talk about innovation and why companies have thousands and thousands of patents

If something has been marked today in recent years, a curious contradiction has been the Legal battle between Apple and Samsung . The two firms have spent seven years in court debating a possible patent infringement by the Korean firm due, among other things, to the design that Samsung implemented in its terminals after the launch of the first iPhone. It weighs to who it weighs, the smartphones that we know today(all screen, few buttons, layout of the apps, interaction with the operating system …), and that, beyond the money generated by the sales of the terminal, opens another way of income in the form of patent infringement.

At the beginning of the Apple-Samsung case, the court demanded the second billion euros to copy the concept of “product of rectangular shape with four uniformly rounded corners”.

Everything your terminal has, from the shape of the screen to the camera, through the behavior of the operating system or those add-ons that companies add to the software, is registered in a patent . In a no, in thousands and thousands of them. As they gather in the Wired magazine, according to Horace Dediu of Asymco, a mobile phone analyst, companies like Apple, Samsung or IBM can register more than 5,000 patents in a year , and its engineers “break their brains” to register them as quickly as possible.

Let's talk about innovation and why companies have thousands and thousands of patents

For sample, a button. If we look in Google Patents, a patent register offered by Google, Apple has 75,000 and since 2017 it has registered more than 2,200. Samsung has more than 1.2 million , and in the last 18 months has added more than 10,000. Google has 84,900 Y Facebook more than 10,000 . Each of these patents is insurance. If any company develops a product that violates only one of these patents, it can get into trouble with the company and be forced to pay millions. Basically, nobody can implement a system like Face ID without paying Apple , as nobody can catch Bixby doing something similar.

If you have a patent you have the assurance that nobody can violate it without consequences.

Fortunately, using a patent as a throwing weapon is not something that happens frequently -between things because companies would spend more money on lawyers than in developing new products-, but as they say from Wired, the possession of so many patents can suppose a brake on innovation . Think about it in the following way: you develop a product that competes against a more well-known one, and when you launch it to the market, just launch it, you have to go into trials because it turns out that a company already has a patent with your system -although you did not know it- . Evidently, you will lose and your product will be removed from the market.

Let's talk about innovation and why companies have thousands and thousands of patents

Taking it to a somewhat absurd case, if Apple had wanted to get into court with all the brands of mobile phones in the world I could have done it , because they all start from the same smartphone concept. Obviously, as we have already spoken on occasion, Not all firms overshadow Apple . Only Samsung competes one on one with her in her field, so it was normal for Apple to turn their effort into winning the battle.

The real problem with patents is that they do not have to be used . A company can have thousands and thousands of them in stock and never use them (Facebook is the example of it). Nevertheless, yes they can charge for an intellectual property violation , and this, if you want to compete against the big ones, can be fatal. Generalizing, what company would want to take out a new mobile phone with cutting-edge technology if a company has a patent that describes a similar technology? No one. This brake on innovation and development can cause the industry to stagnate , either because only a couple of companies can “launch new products”, or because new competitors do not arise that try to take a piece of the cake.

Sources :, Google Patents,,,


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