Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung chief executive Choi Gee-sung met on May 21 in San Francisco to discuss the bitter patent dispute the companies are waging around the world. The meeting is the result of a court-ordered mediation that some stakeholders hope will result in some sort of settlement or understanding that would reduce the number of cases they’re waging against each other.
There doesnt seem to be much common ground on which the two companies could reach a settlement on the patent issues. There is too much at stake in terms of cash and market advantage for either company to relent. Simply put, the chances of Cook and Choi even coming close to making friends by the end of the day seem rather slim.
Still, the companies and their chief executives arent there to be friends. Quite the contrary, they only need to come to some sort of an agreement to make this all right. Not only will such an agreement benefit them and their operations, it might just benefit consumers and enterprise users.
Heres why Apple and Samsung should come to a patent agreement:
1. Its costly
Although Apple and Samsung continue to file lawsuits against each other, the companies are spending a serious amount of cash just to do so. And so far, neither firm has been able to gain an upper hand in their battles. At some point the one company or the other will have to decide whether the costly litigation is worth it.
2. Theyre not going anywhere
From a consumer perspective, its easy to see why Apple and Samsung should strike a deal. The patents issues wont go away. It seems that every day the companies are launching a new lawsuit against each other without even coming to terms on the previous cases. Enough is enough.
3. Theyre hurting innovation
Its hard to deny that the cases are hurting innovation. Now, before companies can even conceptualize a product, they have to think about whether some obscure aspect of the design will violate a patent. It appears that patent violation disputes are inevitable no matter how careful they might be about design or component selection. After all, if a court comes down in favor of one side or another, it can dramatically affect future products. Patent lawsuits are designed to protect innovation, but in this case, they might just be holding back innovation.
4. Think of public perception
Its about time both Cook and Choi consider how their companies look with all of these lawsuits. Yes, we know that its principle and whats right is right, but the average mobile technology buyer and industry watcher are often turned off by the endless and seemingly petty patent charges the companies levy against each other. Apple and Samsung need to think about public perception and come to some sort of an agreement.
Patent Decisions Arent Uniformly Enforced
5. Its not all about offense
Its easy for the companies to file lawsuits, but what they dont realize is that with every new lawsuit they launch, the defendant responds with more infringement claims of its own. As much as both firms are on the offense, theyre also on the defense. It would be a good idea for Apple and Samsung to realize that, and understand that being on the defense probably isnt so good for their legal budgets over the long term.
6. The courts are getting annoyed
As noted, a judge ordered Apple and Samsung to meet and discuss their mutual issues. Whats more, the companies have faced some less-than-receptive judges elsewhere around the world. It appears now that the courts are starting to get annoyed. And annoyed judges could cause a whole bunch of issues for both firms. Its best to strike the deal now and move on before the judges start getting really mad.
7. The lawsuits have lost focus
When Apple and Samsung filed their first lawsuits against each other, the cases seemed to have focus and the supporting documentation was thought to be of high quality among judges. Since then, however, the companies have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink into their lawsuits. It became so bad recently that a judge in California told both sides to reduce the size of their lawsuits. The patent-infringement claims have lost their focus.
8. Bans wont be universally enforced
In nearly every case the companies have been waging, theyre looking for a court to ban the others products. Thats fine and all, but the problem is, even when one side wins, the bans arent universally enforced. In fact, theyre often overturned or rendered useless after an appeal or unenforceable in countries overseas. If the eventual goal is a banning the sale of products, at what point will Apple and Samsung realize that likely wont happen on a grand scale?
9. The companies have bigger issues
Both companies’ mobile businesses have grown tremendously, but that wont continue forever. Apple must hope that its new CEO can be as effective as Steve Jobs. It also needs to hope that its recent, nominal upgrades to its mobile products will keep customers interested. Samsung, meanwhile, cant relax a minute in its competition with Apple. Now is not the time to waste energy in the courtroom.
10. It leaves them open to competitors slings and arrows
Dont forget that however these lawsuits pan out, Apple and Samsungs competitors will be watching closely. After all, theyre armed with their own patent libraries and if they feel that a particular lawsuit provides an opening, theyll spring into action. Neither Apple nor Samsung should give competitors the ability to capitalize on perceived weakness in the courtroom.