The last month witnessed Apple’s legal victory over Samsung in the high profile intellectual property infringement battle between the two technology giants. The US jury has awarded Apple damages of US $1.05 billion after it found that Samsung has copied critical features of the i-phone and i-pad.
The attorneys of Apple Inc by the use of demonstrative evidence (bearing in mind the complexity involved in intellectual property infringement cases) were able to prove that vast majority of Apple’s patents (both utility and design) were infringed. In addition, they were also able to prove that Samsung products has diluted also infringed the trade dress of i-phone 3G .They were able to convince the jury that trade dress of phone is distinctive and it that Apple has a common law right over the unregistered trade dress of iphone -3G due to its continued use of it.
In the next hearing in December the jury might pass injunction orders preventing future sales and import of infringing products of Samsung if Apple is able to prove that it will suffer irreparable harm if permanent injunction is not granted.
The verdict is not only a victory for Apple and defeat for Samsung , it is likely to affect Corporate world at large. The judgement is likely to make the Companies more cautious. Today even the smallest of innovation in smallest of the detail in the product can be patented. For eg. in this case zooming on a picture by spreading two fingers was an Apple patent Samsung had infringed on.
In the near feature we could expect to see more companies filing patents for smallest innovation. The value of intellectual property has gone up tremendously and this verdict demonstrates that even the smallest patent can have very large value.
Companies while strategizing will also have to consider how much they want their product to look like their competitor’s product in terms of shape and size. International IP protection has become a key component of the offensive and defensive strategy of big multinational companies and has become a matter of their corporate survival.
In a world where larger companies are laying their hands on every small innovation, the smaller companies find themselves to be trapped. The smaller companies are exposed to competition in the foreign market which this hampers their ability to grow large scale.
But it is the small companies and start-ups who are aspiring to grow in international markets and maximize the profits are bearing the brunt of this development in the corporate world as they do not have the resources to file patents internationally or hire international law firms as the procedures for filing patent application is complex. Since if there is no intellectual property protection there is no intellectual property infringement.
This problem can be solved if the smaller companies and start – ups strategies their intellectual property protection intelligently. The first step is that these companies should sit with expert IP counsels and identify all of their Companies intellectual property. Then they need to come up with an effective scheme for IP protection based on their budget.
An expert IP counsel can guide these companies on the kind of IP protection the company requires, they can make these companies identify which of their IP can be sold or licensed to a third party and thereby become a source of revenue for the company. They can also assist these companies in prioritizing the countries in which they need to file IP application and also educate them whether a foreign country has laws affecting their technology.
(Patanjali Associates is a full service law firm with a strong team of intellectual property lawyers expert in making IPR schemes for clients in media , education , hospitality e-commerce and start ups in FMCG sector .)