"Rampant patent litigation." If you've followed consumer technology for any small amount of time, you'd know that it's happening. Apple vs. Samsung. Yahoo vs. Facebook. HTC, Motorola, Google -- you name it. If it's a large tech company, it's probably worried somewhat about being sued over patents. Companies that are involved don't seem to be making any grandiose public claims about this misfortune. But the tech media, and consumers at large, are growing tired of the back-and-forth. And you know it's bad when even a entity as large and hulking (and busy) as the International Telecommunication Union puts out a press release addressing the matter.
The ITU has been involved in a lot of the patent fighting going on, with certain companies requesting that the ITU block sales of certain products due to alleged patent infringement. As the ITU says: "In light of recent patent disputes that have caused shipments of goods to be impounded at docks and the worldwide increase in standard essential patent (SEP) litigation, ITU will host a high-level roundtable discussion between standards organizations, key industry players and government officials at ITU headquarters in Geneva, on 10 October 2012." You read that correctly; the ITU is so concerned about the out-of-control state of tech patent litigation that it will be holding an event to discuss how we can get it back under control.
The ITU even goes one step further, saying that this mess is "innovation-stifling," and that this event is where it will "be tackled." The release continues:
"Discussions on the relevance of current arrangements based around reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) patent policies will be a key focus. RAND-based policies have thus far been an effective way of managing natural tensions between patent holders, standards implementers and end-users. However, the definition of what constitutes ‘reasonable’, and whether or not holders of SEPs are entitled to injunctive relief are now emerging as major points of contention. The information and communication technology (ICT) industry in particular is affected, with key protocols implemented in devices sometimes encompassing hundreds of patents. If just one patent holder decides to demand unreasonable compensation for use of its intellectual property (IP), the cost of the device in which that IP is implemented can skyrocket."
Finally. Finally, some entity is stepping up and saying what many have been saying, but this is way more likely to make an impact. We can't wait to see what companies show up and what kind of debate goes down. Hopefully, we'll see this frantic lawsuits subside and innovation take back off.