There has been a lot of news recently about big technology companies like Apple, Samsung and LG battling it out over patents and laws, claiming that ideas have been copied and reproduced throughout the different companies. Apple recently just won a massive law suit against Samsung, leading to over a billion dollars charged to Samsung. This lawsuit has brought about speculations that the tech market is now doomed due to restrictions between companies, and therefore higher prices and less variety for consumers is to be expected while Apple dominates the market.
But first, what is a patent? In the simplest terms, patents allow big businesses to gain exclusivity in their products and designs. This is important in the tech industry as such companies rely on design to make sales. When one company copies the design of another, it is pretty much considered cheating. Taking a shortcut to get to an end result quicker, simply by copying or redeveloping someone else’s idea. The question is, how far can they go? Is it okay for Apple to claim that Samsung pretty much stole their design, gaining compensation and meanwhile stunting growth in the market and giving Apple an invaluable advantage?
Samsung has also made a few claims of its own against the super giant Apple, and most recently against LG, claiming that they stole OLED technology. Samsung has filed legal documents concerning OLED screens and 21 other ‘relevant details’. Samsung is seeking compensation from LG, just like Apple was seeking compensation from them. Samsung is reportedly seeking around 900,ooo dollars in compensation, and follows other reports that individuals from Samsung were arrested for leaking information to LG.
The billion dollar payout from Samsung to Apple, as well as further possibilities involving an injection against the sales of infringing Samsung smartphones and tablets, is likely to give Apple the boost in sales and marketshare they have been looking for. There have been speculations that this historical lawsuit will lead to either innovative new designs that are different to Apple, or a fall in the quality of design in other products that are ‘not allowed’ to use these design technologies.
The New York Times posted, “Consumers will either have some great diversity in phone and tablet design or they may be stuck with devices that manufacturers have clumsily revamped to avoid crossing Apple.”
In the short term however, this lawsuit is likely to result in further lawsuits, as big companies battle it out to maintain there designs. This will lead to higher prices, as for every device sold that has been affected by patent laws, a percentage of that sale price goes towards paying patent fees. For example, every sale of an Apple iPhone must accompany a fee paid from Apple to Nokia for licensing of certain elements. As the costs for big companies go up, so do consumer prices.
So what do we have here? Once again, the biggest companies win, the smaller companies lose, and the consumers end up paying more.