Samsung demands patent law review, thinks the system is “antiquated”

by: Kris CarlonJanuary 19, 2016
720

PatentsLogoMarketland MarketingLand

Update, February 5: As expected, Apple is urging the Supreme Court to ignore Samsung’s request.

Original post, January 19: This is perhaps not so surprising, coming from a company that is pretty famous for patent infringement litigation. The irony is that Samsung is suing someone for patent infringement as often as it is being sued for infringing patents itself. But the company believes patent law is “antiquated” and that continued adherence to the system could “stall innovation and the progress of technology”.

Coming from the largest design patent holder in the U.S., it may seem odd that Samsung would want to do away with the very system that protects its patent assets. But the frequency with which Samsung, and many other tech companies like it, use artistic license to “borrow” technology covered by patent licensing is clearly at issue. Samsung obviously feels it has more to gain than lose if the current state of patent law is modified.

samsung-body-fat-patent-new

If even one of the 250,000 patents a smartphone requires is found to infringe on a design patent, the entirety of the product’s profit can be awarded to the patent holder.

The logic is as follows: patent law was originally invented to protect ideas or inventions central to a product, but the products were so simple that a single patent might suffice. But times have changed. A smartphone can require up to a quarter million patents, and if even one of those is found to infringe on a patent, the entirety of the product’s profit can be awarded to the patent holder. This is called the “total-profit” rule, and it is why patent trolling is such a popular business these days.

Naturally, the downside of patent trolling is that companies are ever more cautious with the products they produce. Stepping too close to the line could easily result in a negative ruling in a court of law and if the entire profits of a product as large as the Galaxy S7 were to be awarded to – let’s say, Apple – this could be devastating for a company even as large as Samsung.

SAMSUNG VS. THE COMPETITION:

The result is that competition is stifled, progress is slowed, innovation is crippled and patent trolling becomes a more viable business division than R&D. This is all actually true. It’s just that coming from Samsung, all you can think about is: they want access to Apple patents without the bothersome lawsuits or damages claims. But this is serious business, not just an internet rant.

Samsung filed a petition with the U. S. Supreme Court in December 2015 requesting a review of the patent law system. The last time patent law was addressed by the Supreme Court was in the late 1800s. And it’s not only Samsung involved; Google, Facebook, Dell, eBay and HP have all filed amicus briefs in support of the review along with various public policy watch groups. Not surprisingly, Apple is not among the supporters.

samsung-galaxy-note-5-vs-iphone-6s-plus-12

Now, Samsung isn’t asking for the patent system to be scrapped entirely, just that it be reviewed and updated for modern times. The “total-profit” rule seems to be the bullseye. Cynics might claim that removing this lynch-pin would simply allow companies like Samsung to more freely infringe on patents without suffering huge financial consequences, perhaps the only thing stopping them from doing so.

But Samsung also has a point. No matter what way you come at this problem, the patent system really does need an update. As Samsung notes: “To protect the future of innovation, design patent laws must be interpreted in a way that makes sense for modern products. Design patents must not be given too broad a scope and damages must not be windfalls vastly out of proportion to the contribution of the patented design.”

samsung galaxy s6 vs iphone 6s aa (17 of 20)

 

Design patents must not be given too broad a scope and damages must not be windfalls vastly out of proportion to the contribution of the patented design.

If Samsung is successful in petitioning the Supreme Court to revisit patent law, this could mean huge things for technology in the years to come. But that will all depend on what the Supreme Court’s findings are. The case could take years and the ruling may not even work in Samsung’s favor. But with this many high-powered tech companies in support, though, it certainly won’t go unnoticed.

Do you think the “total-profit” rule is outdated? How do you think patents should be handled?

  • Diego Opazo SV-Cross

    But… this could lead to a lot of very similar products.

    • Real_SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

      All smartphones are very similar products now. There isn’t much that differentiates them in terms of hardware or even design.

  • It could mean that companies like HTC can make more phones like the A9 which is as every one knows a blatant copy of the iPhone 6

    • balcobomber25

      Or that Apple could make phones like the 6 which is as every one knows a blatant copy of the HTC One M7.

      • Brad Fortin

        The only things the M7 and iPhone 6 have in common are the antenna lines.

        The M7 isn’t unibody, has a rounded back with square sides, flat front with square edges, camera below the antenna line, front-facing stereo speakers, capacitive buttons, and no fingerprint reader.

        The iPhone 6/6S is unibody, has a flat back with rounded sides, rounded edges in front, camera above the antenna line, single downward-firing mono speaker, and a physical home button with built-in fingerprint reader.

        The A9 is unibody, has a flat back with rounded sides, rounded edges in front, camera above the antenna line, single downward-firing mono speaker, and a physical home button with built-in fingerprint reader.

        The A9 and iPhone 6/6S have more in common with each other than with any other phone in the iPhone or HTC lines.

        • balcobomber25

          The fact that you needed to write an article defending it says enough about it. Apple was clearly inspired by the M7.

          • Brad Fortin

            Hahaha, that’s some of the worst logic I’ve ever seen. “He just proved me wrong, I must be right!”

          • balcobomber25

            If that’s what you need to feel better.

          • Goblin Shark

            Oh that is why you do it lol

          • Goblin Shark

            get off HTCs joint LOL

          • balcobomber25

            I am not even close to an HTC fan, wanna try again? I can just notice how much Apple was “inspired” by them and Android in general. I love how Apple fanboys told us for years that anything over 5 inches was way too big for a smartphone display….

          • Goblin Shark

            Get off HTCs joint LOL

          • balcobomber25

            Get off Apples joint LOL

          • Goblin Shark

            Get off HTCs joint LOL

          • balcobomber25

            Get off my joint LOL

          • Goblin Shark

            We’re not supposed to sext in the comments thread LOL

  • balcobomber25

    The problem with patents is often times they are far too broad and open to interpretation, which is why we have so many lawsuits today. For instance Apple has a patent for multitouch that has sparked numerous lawsuits. The patent itself is very broad and describes methods for interacting with a webpage or other screen element using one or more fingers, depending on what the user is trying to do. That is really it, there is no mention of how it is achieved or the GUI used. This one patent has been the result of about a dozen lawsuits Apple has been involved. Even worse is different courts read patents differently due to the broad scope of them.

  • mockey

    As usual, Apple Authority speaking like a true blue Apple-polisher. Lot of Apple’s patents are just ideas written in word without any technology know how or solid technology patent to back them up. It’s like a school kid trying to patent his new way of cutting open his bag of snack using “fusion powered laser beam”. The kid know sh*t about how to create the laser & fusion ….but we all can agree his idea is “possible”. But, do you let this kid patent this idea???

    • AC

      If you review patent law you will find this false as a working prototype is required for a patent. Though I agree with your point.

    • Goblin Shark

      I think you need to reexamine your argument, you are incorrect.

  • Steve Brain

    How has this not already been challenged? The patent system is so absurdly outdated, it MUST be amended already.

  • mrochester

    A competitive market needs to allow companies to have products and features that are innovative and different to what the competition has to offer. The patent system needs to allow companies to know that if the invest time and money in developing these innovative features and products that they will be protected by law to prevent competitors from simply ripping them off.

    However, such a patent system would require an absolutely enormous number of government department officials to scrutinise and understand such patents. Maybe the system should be set up so that the patent requester has to fund the necessary staff resource to validate and scrutinise the patent? The government is unlikely to have the money to spend in the quantity required.

  • Karly Johnston

    It should change to, if you don’t introduce a product with your patent within 6 months it becomes invalid.

  • Scr-U-gle

    Poor Similarsung, more useless patents like swipe fingerprint scanners etc than anyone, and having to make iphonies that don’t get updates.

    Now they want to be able to copy Apple with impunity, what a bunch of scum they truly are showing themselves to be.

  • Goblin Shark

    250,000 is not a quarter billion.

  • Andreas

    with the current patenent system in usa, it is possible to get sell bann on android devices, however… american courts are protecting their american apple interest… so it impossible for apple to get loose a case..it is kind of unfair play rules..but it is the truth..

    Not much more would give me satisfaction as seeing the steve cook expression when his iphone have got a sale ban..it would be worth killing for.. so he can finally taste his own medicine.