Technology companies all over the world have engaged in lawsuits against each other over various controversies since the beginning of the industry. Major corporations that produce smartphones, such as Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple, have often engaged in 'smartphone patent wars', which are lawsuits over patent and design disputes. Often, these companies have sued each other in several countries at a time in order to protect their creative patents and keep up their presence in the global market. A typical case of this happened only two years ago when, on January 2012, Motorola sued Apple in a German court over allegations of Apple infringing on Motorola's technology patents. The results of this particular case and some others, however, spell a different story for the future of smartphone patent wars.
The European Union Commission declared on Tuesday, April 29, that Motorola's lawsuit against Apple was a violation of EU law, since Apple had signed a license and agreed to pay royalties to use Motorola's patents. The Commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union, also stated that settlement on the case should be reached through arbitration outside of court with no further legal action. Joaquin Almunia, the Commission's anti-trust enforcer, spoke on the ruling, stating that it was made on the behalf of consumers and implementers, who should be able to have full access to this technology. He stated that while intellectual property should be protected and accounted for, the standards governing it should be grounded on "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms."
On the same day, Almunia proclaimed that Samsung Electronics had agreed not to seek injunctions against rivals over patent disputes if licensing agreements were signed. With this policy put into effect, any company that has a license with Samsung will be protected against any injunctions that might lead into lawsuits. This is a brand new policy for Samsung, who had originally been known to aggressively pursue injunctions against rivals such as Apple over issues such as the use of SEPs. It was widely praised by Almunia, who stated that this kind of practice should be adopted by other smartphone companies as well.
By establishing regional law over one key aspect of the patent issue (using other companies' patents with licenses and royalties), the EU hopes to put a halt on smartphone patent wars and be able to grant fair access and use of technology to both its makers and consumers. Do you think the smartphone patent wars will finally begin to come to an end?