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The Courts

Visual Depiction of Who Is Suing Who in Mobile 175

Although the graphic itself won't win an award for design, Norman submitted a story about who's suing who in the mobile universe. From Apple to Qualcomm and pretty much everyone in between, it's a pretty impressive mess.
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Visual Depiction of Who Is Suing Who in Mobile

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  • The Lawyers win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:41PM (#33798512)
    You should see the homes of some of these guys...
    • is there enough time for me to go to law school and graduate in time to cash in on all this nonsense?
      • I'm sure there will be plenty of nonsense when you graduate circa 2015.

        By that point you'll probably have TV broadcasters suing Google, Apple, etc over interference caused by their TV Band/whitespace devices. You'll have these same companies suing to gain control of channels 26 and up for cellphones. Meanwhile Apple will be suing some clone maker who is selling an ePhone - basically a clone of the iPhone. Also that new open source project that mimics OS X 10.10 (Whine). RIAA/MPAA will be suing people bi

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )

        You don't even need to go to law school. There are a whole slew of systems used by lawyers that IT guys can support. Relativity, Clearwell and iConect are a couple that you might want to look into.

  • Take that! That'll teach you to compete with me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgagnon ( 1663075 )

      It's not anti-competitive... the competition just moved into the courts.

      • Maybe the courts should start charging 0.1 million per lawsuit to these corporations, in order to offset the added expense of operations (and also pay down the debt).

        Of course fees for individuals would remain the same, so the rest of us can afford it.

  • It would be far more informative if the "balloon" for each company was sized based on gross sales, or some-such. That would at least differentiate between a large company with serveral lawsuits, and a tiny company with an inordinate number.

  • by mkawick ( 190367 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:43PM (#33798552)

    Just saying

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:44PM (#33798556) Homepage Journal
    its been a few years, and we are at this point. compare the rate and think what a bigger mess it will be in 5-10 years.
    • by arivanov ( 12034 )

      Actually, that is not the only way of looking at this. IMO, more than everything, the diagram shows that the RAND process common in cellular standards does not work.
      While the MPEG-LA may be a common hate figure on Slashdot looking at this diagram makes me think that there may be some method in their madness. Combining standards with 3rd party control over the patent pool seems to create a much more sane environment compared to RAND.

  • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:47PM (#33798598) Homepage
    All this money and time wasted in the courts could be used to make better products and improve innovation. How are patents are suppose to promote the progress of useful arts again? We should just change the text to "to promote the progress of lawyers".
    • It's like the heat death of the universe. After all the black holes go away all you'll have left are photons.

      Our society is going down the same road. After everything is sued away all you'll have left is lawyers.

    • As we get more technology and more patents, there are more lawsuits - which is more money wasted on lawyers.

      Eventually we'll reach a point where a company only produces one product, then spends the rest of its life defending itself from lawsuits. And this will be good for the consumers of course.

      Technology marches on.
    • Rent-seeking: It's the new innovation!

    • by gutnor ( 872759 )
      Well - they make better product and innovate. Just in the meta-universe that is the immensely intricate web of international law and regulation.

      That would be interesting if "us" were direct beneficiary of this parallel market. But all I can think off, is that all this is a "broken window fallacy" type scenario with lawyer as "glaziers".

      Well, maybe we should just say - screw the protection for little inventor and artist and get rid of patents and copyright. That is not good solution, and probably bad in

    • How are patents are suppose to promote the progress of useful arts again?

      Because people need to be able to put food on the table, buy clothes, etc. If they do their hard work inventing something (even an improvement of a previous invention), they need to be able to profit off of that, and not have everyone just steal the idea on which they spent time/money working.

      • by Draek ( 916851 )

        Ideas are cheap, implementation is everything. Besides, it's a lot easier to profit from an idea when you don't have a dozen large corporations suing the crap out of you, as per TFA.

  • Business Success (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It would be interesting to correlate this to how successful companies have been in recent years. Just looking at the diagram, it appears that businesses that are floundering tend to sue, or even moreso the opposite, businesses that are successful are getting more heat.
  • Microsoft.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quantus347 ( 1220456 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:48PM (#33798626)
    How is it that nobody is suing Microsoft? I mean...its Microsoft: Digital Evil since 1985. They've constantly been in one form of litigation or another for decades.
    • Re:Microsoft.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:52PM (#33798670) Journal
      Microsoft doesn't have anything anybody wants to emulate.
      • by js3 ( 319268 )

        Seriously that makes no sense. Why would I sue a company I am emulating? You sue when someone steals something FROM you.. *looks at google*

      • by Motard ( 1553251 )

        Cross licensing and proactive lawyers - both aligned to a strategy. I don't think it's any coincidence that they're touting low risk by indemnifying manufacturers against patent litigation.

    • Re:Microsoft.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dattaway ( 3088 ) * on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:55PM (#33798720) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft isn't delivering a product, so they can't be sued.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )
      From TFA ... because MS spent the last 30 years developing corner-cutting... errr, I mean, cutting-edge... software. Therefore they don't have a product, in mobile markets, they can be sued over.
    • by dacut ( 243842 )

      Most companies are smart enough to let sleeping dogs lie.

      Doing battle with Microsoft (or any other big name company) means a lot of money spent on legal fees, whether you're on the serving or receiving end of the lawsuit. If you do sue them, you had better hope that you can fund your lawyers through the duration of the case and that the expected payout is worth the expense.

    • Re:Microsoft.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @07:09PM (#33801312)
      Because Microsofts patent portfolio is so large and varied that its preferable to enter into a cross licensing deal.

      The end result is that most companies *do* cross license with Microsoft without the muss and fuss of a legal battle, because by all rights Microsoft does have some patents of value that you want.

      A non-comprehensive list of companies that Microsoft has cross-licensing deal with:

      Alpine, Amazon, Apple, Autodesk, Centrify, Denso, Epson, Fuji, Funai, HP, JVC, Kenwood, Lexmark, LG, Lotus, Nikon, Olympus, Onkyo, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, TomTom, Toshiba, and Xerox.

      ..thats just the short list of companies I found in the first few pages of a google search.
  • Another thing to consider is who's charging exorbitant licensing fees from whom. Example: RIM is charging Microsoft a per-seat licensing fee for any Blackberry user whose account resides on a Microsoft-hosted email solution. I'm sure there are other examples, but my google-fu is weak.
    • Well, that graph has a line about MS suing HTC, but, if I remember correctly, there was no lawsuit - just an expensive (for HTC) licensing agreement.

  • If you can't innovate, litigate.. right?

    • has anyone ever shed light on the ratio of what MS spends on their R&D vs. Legal teams?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RapmasterT ( 787426 )
      so out of a chart showing 17 companies suing each other, you've only got a pithy comment aimed at Microsoft?

      Does that reveal a knee-jerk anti-microsoft bias, or an inability to comment on the actual subject matter...I guess that's not really an either-or question. never mind.
      • Re:Hey Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:20PM (#33800048)
        no other company has 'touched' me so much as they have over the past 25 years so yes, they and their tactics always get my attention.

        And as far as everyone else goes, these kinds of things have been going on for years but it is Microsoft who continues to do the most damage to competition. The others tend to figure out how to work thing out without initially destroying each other. Microsoft's business methods and practices are always based on protectionism as opposed to competition and their market position makes them the largest threat in the ring. They've lost 10s of billions on the Windows CE based productline yet it still exists. As with Internet Explorer they effectively pay vendors to ship their products until the competition has lost enough income they are easy pickings. That makes them the elephant in the room.

        As for it being knee-jerk well if it were a demolition derby, when a competitor shows up in a armored tank, who but the blind isn't going to point that out?

    • by Tanman ( 90298 )

      If you innovate, then you get to litigate TWICE. Once to defend, and again to collect.

    • If you can't innovate, litigate.. right?

      Nice try, i guess none of those companies do any innovation then.

  • have they fallen so far they aren't worth or can't afford lawyers?

  • by pavon ( 30274 )

    And then you have NTP who is suing everybody.

    • I was thinking the same thing. NTP are suing everybody under the sun apart from Nokia (who licensed from them) and RIM (who they've already sued).

      And they also aren't suing Samsung for some reason. (yet)

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:57PM (#33798746)

    Can you imagine if what is going on now in the mobile space had been happening as personal computing took off during the 80s? We'd have gotten just short of nowhere, what with all the patent suits crippling things and walled garden lock down forcing people to find exploits so they can regain basic levels of control.

    I can't help that this piss poor, anti-user behavior in the mobile market is going to ripple up into the general computing space in the next few years and generally make life hell for anyone who shows an interest in computers beyond Facebook, e-mail and the latest console game.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tool462 ( 677306 )

      I had to question your assumption that patent suits were less common in the 80s, so I did some googling. Turns out the 80s were pretty bad too: []
      The pretty and relevant charts are on page 24 (Figures 3 and 4)

      The excerpt from the paper that describes those charts (page 10-11):

      Figure 3 shows that litigation has risen along with the increase in patenting, and also that
      there has been a substantial increase in suits involving non-rival

  • by D Ninja ( 825055 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:57PM (#33798754)

    If you stare at that diagram long enough, you can see a whole bunch of lawyers swimming in piles of cash ala Scrooge McDuck. (If you're having trouble, it helps if you cross your eyes a little bit and back away slowly.)

  • It appears the US has lost it's edge even in the number of people to sue.
  • by symes ( 835608 )
    Its a bit like the wild west when gold prospectors shot it out to decide who got dibs on what plot of land. Except in this case bullets are words and property is intellectual. I vote for a return to the good old days.
  • "Artist rendering of actual patent thicket"

  • Nokia is suing 5 companies and is being sued by 2.
    Kodak is suing 5 companies and is being sued by none.
    Microsoft is suing 2 companies and is being sued by none.
    Apple is suing 2 companies and is being sued by 3.
    Motorola is suing nobody and is being sued by three companies.
    Sharp is suing nobody and is being sued by 3 companies.
    LG and HTC are being sued 2 times apiece.

    So, is Nokia the worst offender as it watches its profits tank in response to fierce competition?
    Is Kodak, the king of failed business models ov

  • the land of the fee.

  • Basically, whenever you get successful, someone is going to sue you for something. Litigation, in the USA anyway, has turned into a business strategy. It's a pretty extravagant burden on taxpayers these days since the economy is already screwed. Look how long the SCO debacle has dragged on: Mar, 6th 2003. I Wonder how much just that one case has cost taxpayers. And no, I don't think SCO will not pay those costs if they file (have filed?) for bankruptcy. These stupid lawsuits gotta stop.
  • Nokia and Kodak(?!?!) are basically suing everybody while Motorola and Sharp(?!?! again) are taking it in all holes.

    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      The caption of the graph is somewhat misleading as half of Nokia's lawsuits are suing companies for LCD price-fixing, not patent disputes.

  • I remember, in a past discussion, someone described the patent situation similar to the cold war but noted that it's likely ending in an explosive way. Previously, companies held patent portfolios to hold other companies at bay in a defensive stance similar to the stockpiles of missiles. Now, however, the portfolios are being used offensively - the missiles are starting to fly. As more and more start to get unleashed, this is only going to get uglier, in my opinion. While I may not like seeing my favourite
  • Whenever a new technology or standard is proposed, there will inevitably always be overlapping patents that someone else owns. This is why big companies like to hold patents like poker cards. Nobody knows exactly what/how many/how effective the cards the other players hold, which is why most of the time nobody plays the litigation game. It's like saying "I'll hold on to my King because I'm afraid that guy has an Ace" unless that other guy already played a Queen against you in another game and then... well i

  • I saw that comment in TFA and thought, 'how great that is for Microsoft'.

  • That graphic is deliberately fucked up, with edges crossing where there's no need for them to do so.

    What it shows when you decode it is that Nokia and Kodak are the most litigious, while the most frequent targets are Apple (no surpised), Sharp and Motorola.

    9 of the bubbles are suing nobody, 5 are not being sued, and 3 are suing and being sued.

    Nokia is involved in 10 cases, suing 8 companies and being countersued by 2 of them. I guess that's what you get for being a longtime pioneer and suddenly having your

  • I wonder if there's a relationship between a company's stock price and the number of lawsuits it files. Nokia's stock has dropped about 30% since April.
  • wait, aren't Nokia, LG and Samsung all on the Symbian board? Why the hell are they suing each other?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavon ( 30274 )

      Nokia is suing LG, Samsung, Hitachi, Toshiba, Sharp (and others on this graph) over the fact that they were involved in LCD price-fixing. It has nothing to do with patents.

  • All the whining about Apple being sue happy when they are only countersuing Nokia and suing HTC. Meanwhile, Nokia is suing Qualcomm, LG-Group, Motorola, Apple, Sharp, Hitachi and Samsung. What a joke. Don't let the FOSS world find out. They just can't stomach Apple and won't shut up about Android. Since Google makes zip in hardware it makes sense that their hardware partners won't sue them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pavon ( 30274 )

      I won't defend the lawsuits against Apple, and Qualcomm, as I think they are crap, but the graph does seriously misrepresent the situation against Nokia.

      Nokia is suing LG, Samsung, Hitachi, Toshiba, Sharp (and others not on this graph) over the fact that they were involved in LCD price-fixing. Government probes have found those companies guilty of doing so, and it is perfectly legitimate for Nokia to seek damages as a result of those.

      I have no idea what the lawsuit against Motorola is. The closest thing I c

  • Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane
    Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again
    Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt
    Adolf builts a bonfire, Enrico plays with it

    (you get the idea...)

  • I assume the name "Qualcomm" in the diagram has a dotted red underline because MS PowerPoint thinks it's mis-spelt?

    Ah, this is the Grauniad we're talking about. Ignore me.

  • by doronbc ( 1434117 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:39PM (#33800938)
    Probably because we've seen something similar to it before. []
  • I think they purposefully made more lines criss-cross than necessary, just to make it look more complicated. For example, if you move Oracle down to where Toshiba is, then move Toshiba to above Google, that bottom-left corner would be pretty simple.
  • for me was to see who was NOT suing anyone.
  • I've been making a list of the better articles and the most important lawsuits: []

  • There are, at a glance, at least four places where arrows cross, but shouldn't have to if the circles were moved. The worst case is the Oracle-to-Google arrow that has no reason to cross Nokia-to-Toshiba.

    Move HTC above ELAN and Microsoft to the upper left corner.

    Swap Sharp and Samsung.

    Hell, just put the thing through dotty and nothing really has to cross.

    I admit its is a legal pile-o-crap, but the dishonest way the graphical designer "tangled" it is either willful inflationary manipulation of opinion, or it

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.