Market Overview

As Oracle Sues Google, Tech IP Issues Are Too Close For Comfort


There have been for some time a collection of companies that gathers patents and then uses them to sue large technology firms. The issues are often unclear enough and cost of litigation high enough that the plaintiffs walk away with settlements

Beyond the patent-for-hire firms there is a growing amount of suits between technology companies. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) are in a legal battle over certain cellphone software. Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) has spent tens of millions of dollars on disputes with rival Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM) and customer Nokia. Apple settled a case with Singapore-based company Creative for $100 million. The suit was for certain touchscreen patents that Creative claimed it had.

Perhaps the most serious and wide-ranging suit in the history of technology was the patent action brought by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) against open source OS rival Linux. Linux had no capital to fight the world’s largest software company. Microsoft wanted to avoid cross-charges for patents. The matter was settled out of court

The latest patent battle pits Oracle against Google. Oracle claims that Google’s Android mobile OS contains certain intellectual property patented by Sun Microsystems, a company Oracle recently bought. The patents are on the widely used Java software.

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