The sky is not falling: Navigating the smartphone patent thicket

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By Jeffrey I. D. Lewis, President of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and patent litigation partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP (New York); and Ryan M. Mott, associate, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP (New York)

You pick up your smart phone with its curved sides (US Patent No. D618,677), swipe your finger across the screen to unlock it (US Patent No. 8,046,721), check email that was “pushed” to the phone without a request to the server (US Patent No. 6,272,333), and type a text message using only a few touches as the phone automatically completes each word you start to spell (US Patent No. 8,074,172). Guess what? You may be accused of violating these patents or dozens more by using inventions without a valid license. This can occur whether you are using an iPhone, an Android-type device, some other smart phone, or even a yet-to-be-named technology.

If you have been following the news, then you know that there is not a single smart phone in the world that has not been accused of patent infringement. People are concerned. But, fear not. These smartphone wars are part of a cyclical technology event that should not be over-blown.

The smartphone wars

Most of us have been kept out of the smartphone patent firefight, at least when it comes to our personal day-to-day use. But to the parties involved, there is a war going on – with patent infringement accusations being fired regularly at Apple, Samsung, Google, Research in Motion, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, HTC and others. Where there are accusations of infringement, there are lawsuits. Here to read more.

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