The so-called smartphone wars waged over the last three years have been viewed as everything from the bane of the U.S. patent system to perhaps the best evidence of its value. One indisputable result of these highly-publicized legal battles, however, is the impact they are currently having on IP management strategies employed by firms in every corner of the market.
Following an exhaustive global analysis of legal proceedings and innovation activities, Harvard University researchers Yongwook Paik and Feng Zhu have derived several conclusions regarding the business consequences of smartphone patent litigation.
"As the patent war intensifies, smartphone vendors, even those not directly involved in patent litigations, gradually shift their business foci to markets with weaker intellectual property rights protection," they stated in their executive summary. "This shift, however, is attenuated for vendors with stronger technological capabilities and is more pronounced for vendors whose home markets have weak IP systems."
This trend was particularly true in the context of Google's Android operating system. While much of the smartphone litigation centered in the U.S. has focused on exposing the potential infringing elements of the technology, Android continues to significantly expand its market penetration in foreign countries with comparatively weak IP systems.
As a result, the researchers now see patent strategy climbing executive agendas and occupying the same level of commercial importance as product marketing and pricing decisions.