Patent Wars: Useless for Corporations, But Intellectual Property Still Worth Fighting Over for Small Business

patent informationPatent wars: we hear about them in the news each day. Much of what shows up in the news concerns the legal battles between smartphone giants like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, and other companies as they all vie for the top spot among consumers. A new study, however, has revealed that most of these lawsuits are a waste of time and money for the leading smartphone manufacturers.

Florian Mueller, intellectual property rights analyst and founder of the FOSS Patents blog, analyzed 222 smartphone patent assertions over the last four years in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany. These cases, all brought about by these large corporations, have been fights over patent information and intellectual property protection, typically centered around the designs and features of big name smartphones.

Mueller’s finding revealed that of all of those cases a whopping 91% of them went nowhere. That means that only 9% were considered meritorious, whereas 42% of cases were dropped and 49% failed to hold up in court.

Of the 9% that fell into the “meritorious” category, only about half of those (or 10 out of 20) resulted in “lasting injunctive relief,” according to Mueller’s blog. Cases were also broken into categories based on who sued whom and whether the suits were proactive or reactive.

While this data may make it seem like protecting patent information from intellectual property theft is useless, it’s not — at least, not for small businesses. Corporations have billions to spend on expert patent litigation attorneys, but small and medium-sized enterprises don’t have the same resources at their disposal, which makes them especially vulnerable to infringement and unable to pursue enforcement actions in the event of IP theft.

Consider these facts: Current research estimates state that as many as 9% of all products bought and sold throughout the world have infringed upon the intellectual property of corporations and entrepreneurs in the United States. That means it’s not just Apple, one of the world’s most counterfeited brands, that faces infringement. Even small businesses are vulnerable to it.

How does it happen? Much of the time, it’s someone on the inside: trusted business partners comprise 17% of all intellectual property thieves, and former employees make up 21% of that category. The industries with the most insider theft include information technology (which makes up 35% of such cases), banking and finance (13%), and chemical manufacturers (12%).

Whether an infringement has occurred or not, it’s important for small business owners to protect their brands and products adequately. Speaking to a lawyer to receive accurate patent information can help entrepreneurs know about their rights when it comes to their intellectual property. All cases are different, so it’s crucial to receive personalized legal counsel on these matters.

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