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Smartphone Patent Litigation

Software Development Times
07/18/2012

High profile cases between industry titans seem to be accelerating, especially in the smartphone space. The smartphone market is extremely competitive and the potential patent issues are complex because so many patents are involved in a single device. There are hardware patents, software patents, and networking patents. Design patents that protect aesthetics and utility patents that protect function. As smartphones deliver more types of functionality and to connect to more things, more patents apply. And the competitive landscape is changing. Amazon is coming out with a smartphone; Microsoft and Google are introducing tablets. More litigation is coming, part of which will be hot air.

In the high tech industry, patent portfolios are a type of arsenal. More patents typically lead to more licensing fees and greater bargaining power.

How much is a patent worth? How about $5 per handset, 1 percent or one half a percent of the cost of a phone? The sum may sound reasonable until you consider the number of patents involved in a smartphone.

“Not everybody can get $5 per phone because at the end of the day, the phone is going to start costing twice as much as it does currently in the market. Nobody is going to go for that nor is it really reasonable,” said Matthias Kamber, a partner at Keker and Van Nest, LLP. “Phones involve hundreds or thousands of patents depending on how you look at it so you can’t pay 1 percent royalty for each of them. If 10 people show up wanting 1 percent when you have a 10 percent rate of return on your investment, you’re out of business.”

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Matthias Kamber specializes in intellectual property litigation, particularly patent cases. With a background in mechanical engineering, Mr. Kamber has handled cases involving smartphone software and hardware, Internet telephony, wireless networking, microprocessor design, and medical devices throughout the country and before the U.S. International Trade Commission. In addition to patent matters, Mr. Kamber has represented companies and individuals in trade secret, trademark, and copyright matters, as well as IP-related breach of contract actions. And he has also been involved in large-scale antitrust litigation.