The So-Called “Patent Wars”: What’s At Stake

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Joseph Schuman
October 1, 2012
Blurry Picture of Patent System

During the last decade, an explosion of innovative technologies fueled an almost insatiable global demand for mobile devices.  According to IDC, during the second quarter of 2012 more than 400 million mobile devices were sold.  During that same period, smartphone vendors – the makers of cutting-edge, feature-rich mobile phones – shipped 150 million devices at a global growth rate of 42 percent, when compared to 2010.  These are impressive results at a time when nations around the world are still feeling the effects of a devastating recession.

The continued success of the wireless industry has been driven by companies dedicated to endless innovation, working hard to improve products year after year.  We have seen the mobile phone evolve into a marvel of pocket-sized computing technology that can perform thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of tasks using various applications.  These innovations didn’t happen by accident; they are the product of massive investments in R&D by dozens of small and large companies.  The incentive to invest in innovation is rooted in strong intellectual property (IP) laws that protect these inventions.  If those laws are weakened, it will almost certainly reduce the number of innovative products reaching consumers, slow down our creative economy and reduce job growth.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the mobile device’s success and prospects for continued growth, some are trying to erode the underlying IP laws that have served as the foundation for this success.  Companies spend billions of dollars on research and development every year because they are confident existing IP laws will protect this investment.  In a competitive global marketplace where many nations lack the legal traditions and framework for IP that exists in the U.S and other western nations, it is more important than ever to provide innovators with the legal tools they need to protect their inventions.  If opponents of strong intellectual property laws succeed in watering down fundamental protections, the cycle of innovation that created the flourishing mobile device industry could come to a grinding halt.

We welcome your comments and look forward to Patent Truth being a part of this critical conversation.

William Bold
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm

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