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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16970/whos-suing-whom-in-the-telecom-world/

Who’s Suing Whom in the Telecom World

May 16, 2011 by

The picture below (from this Flickr feed) illustrates the large number of lawsuits between players in the telecom sector–most seem to be patent infringement suits or suits based on antitrust law, i.e., totally without merit and a complete waste of resources. Without patent and antitrust law, we would have a less wasteful, less litigious, more competitive market. This ain’t the result of capitalism, but of unlibertarian state law. (H/t Jock Coats)

Update: For some other interesting charts, see the one below, from Ideas Are Free: The Case Against Intellectual Property.

Nokia suit


J. Murray May 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

Qualcomm is suing Nokia for violating the patent behind 3G.
Nokia is suing Apple for copying their concept of putting 3G into phones, which they couldn’t have done without “stealing” the tech from Qualcomm in the first place.
Apple is then suing Nokia over wireless data, which they couldn’t have done without “stealing” WIFI from Nokia.
I’d not be surprised if Apple is suing HTC over something they “stole” from Nokia via Qualcomm.

This is absolutely hilarious. Suing a company for copying your technology then having them sue you back for using the technology based on what you had on patent yourself as another patent infringement despite the fact that the successive technology wouldn’t exist without first violating the original patent, which wouldn’t have happened itself without the precursor technology from tha third party, who is also engagining in a lawsuit.

And there are people out there that think patents are good for incentivizing technological improvements. I just counted 3 technologies in this goofy loop that would not exist today had patents been followed perfectly.

bobobberson May 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

Not to mention the Kodak Sony Ericsson loop, which sounds like a hardware / software dispute.

J. Murray May 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

The RIM one is also great – suing Motorola for having anticompetitive patents. Isn’t the purpose of a patent to keep others from competing?

MB May 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

“This is absolutely hilarious. Suing a company for copying your technology then having them sue you back for using the technology based on what you had on patent yourself as another patent infringement despite the fact that the successive technology wouldn’t exist without first violating the original patent, which wouldn’t have happened itself without the precursor technology from tha third party, who is also engagining in a lawsuit.”

(full disclosure: I work for one of the companies on this chart)

Actually, some of these suits are for more simpler reasons: you sued us? well, we’ll sue you back basically. Its part of the defense. If the first lawsuits are dropped, the countersuits will also be (usually after paying money for ‘licensing’ stuff).

iceberg May 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I think it may appear disingenuous to point to complexity as a bad per se; Leonard Read’s I, Pencil, Hayek’s spontaneous market order, et. al are hossannas to the beauty of decentralized-planning.

J. Murray May 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

It’s not that complexity is bad, it’s that a complex market and patents tend to damage one another. The links above indicate a large number of technologies that couldn’t have existed without violating some other patent. There are very few “source” technologies on that list, most of them up there are riding off something else. If patents were treated as they were intended, using I, Pencil for a foundation, the entire cellular phone industry would collapse overnight as critical technologies needed to make it work are under patent by different companies. So many technologies necessary to make it work wouldn’t exist and the few base technologies out there would be mired in a string of licensing agreements to be of any commercial use.

El Tonno May 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Additionally Apple and Samsung are sewing each other. Apple attacked Samsung [which happens to be its supplier; yup, iPhones don't grow on trees] over patent violation because Samsung makes something that looks like an iPhone (i.e. has round edges).then Samsung countersued over actual technical patents. What a mess.

I’m sure that RIM, aka. “Lawsuits in Motion” has to have more links.

Nielsio May 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm

How sad for the courts, the lawyers, and other bureaucrats, that they have to take on all this work.


David Rogers May 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

IBM’s not suing anyone?

Ohhh Henry May 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm

What about Alcatel-Lucent? Or is it Lucent-Alcatel. I can’t believe that somebody sitting on the tens of thousands of Bell Labs patents can’t find something to litigate over. I heard a rumor some time ago that they had assembled a large team of wonks and legal beagles with the intention of turning that vast library of patents into gold, by shaking down everyone possible. Did they decide that they’re too indebted to keep that effort going, or did they decide to concentrate on small and weak companies which are too unimportant to make it onto charts like this?

Freedom Fighter May 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I tend to think that technology is about to advance so rapidly, that brand based and patent based marketing is about to collapse on it’s own weight.

Cheap computer systems and replicas made from India and China will supplant the iphones and other mobiles and computing hardware, they will not be brand named and will be sold for cheap.

Then alternatives to the appstore will bring apps even cheaper and even more accessible for sellers and buyers.

I think that we are seing the last of brand based consumer electronics.

George May 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

I doubt that. Brand fulfills a crucial need that consumers are looking for. These consumers don’t want cheap crap from China that doesn’t work well and has all sorts of problems and no support.

CT May 17, 2011 at 8:18 am

And in comes a “patent troll” to sue them all!

CT May 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

You seem to have forgotten the “patent troll” in your diagram!

JMH May 19, 2011 at 4:11 am

I like how very few try and mess with Samsung. Korean chaebol do not mess around. Makes Apple’s decision to sue them even more puzzling.

Nathanael May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I think it’s a little bizarre that you’re lumping patent and copyright law (artificial, government-created monopolies) with anti-trust law (attempting to break up private monopolies which, by their monopolistic nature, have many of the powers of governments). Please use your brains rather than knee-jerk anti-government reaction.

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Do you think that it is possible that your missing some subtitles here?

Let me give you a hint:

Give me one example of a business cabal or corporate monopoly (or related item) that lasted for a significant period of time that was NOT propped up and protected by government.

While it’s technically possible to have a harmful monopoly caused through purely capitalistic forces, it’s extremely unlikely and theories espoused here says it doesn’t happen.

The theory goes:
Monopolies don’t happen in a purely open society. They are largely a reflection of government power being used to protect a entrenched interest.

However it is still possible if unlikely. If monopolies do form in a purely capitalistic society it will still be largely beneficial. The reason for this is that in order to retain their monopoly they will have to be simply better at fulfilling the needs and desires of their customers then any potential competitor could. If the monopolist then begins to abuse their position (that is to take on governmental-type powers) and use their position to the detriment of their customers then they are opening themselves up to competitors and will not be able to retain their monopoly. That is they may be able to maintain their monopoly, but only if they do not abuse it.

A cabal (aka ‘trust’) can and will form in a open society. I am talking about multiple businesses working together to establish price fixing. However they do not last long since the members of the cabal will secretly undermine one another for competitive advantage and the large profits will attract significant competition from entrepreneurs are not part of the cabal. Competitive forces, in this way, will break down price controls and bust trusts.

Bill May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

So, how efficient is it that one cannot protect my patented invention? Not efficient for inventor, but very efficient for the thief.

Audit August 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Perhaps best way is to plow ahead with your exit plan being “I’ll let the guy with the patent buy my company.”

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