Sue me once, shame on you; sue me twice, shame on me. After having been found guilty of patent infringement on more than one occasion in the recent past, Samsung has finally realized it needs a change in strategy. After shelling out a billion dollars to Apple and now being sued by Rockstar, an industry consortium, for infringing Nortel patents, Samsung has started to take preemptive measures. In the race for tech domination, it is very easy to step on other people’s toes as a lot of today’s technology is overlapping. Next thing you know, you’re slapped with a patent infringement suit and there goes a cool billion down the drain.
How do large companies that innovate continuously stay relevant to prevent such situations? Well, one solution seems to be to sign cross licensing agreements. Recently, Samsung and Cisco Systems entered a cross licensing agreement that enables both parties to use each other’s patent portfolio without fear of being sued by the other for the next ten years. This agreement not only ensures against future litigation but affords access to present as well as future patents acquired within the next ten years. This is not the only deal Samsung has struck. Two days before making nice with Cisco, it entered a similar ten year patent pact with Google. Samsung means business, striking deals with some of the biggest names in the field. Cisco is one of the principal makers of networking equipment in America and Google is well, Google.
I believe this growing trend amongst multinational corporations to share intellectual property is a welcome change from the constant animosity and litigation that is doing nothing but stifling an industry that could be soaring ahead if everyone worked synergistically. In an official statement regarding the Google agreement, Dr. Seungho Ahn, the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center said, “This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry, Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.” Could not agree with you more doctor.
But given the acrimonious relationship Samsung and Apple share, who knows what their actual intentions are. Rockstar, the industry consortium, of which Apple is a part, has been harassing Google as well and as the old adage goes; an enemy of my enemy is my friend. Could this alliance be a way to get a leg up on Apple? Or is it an honest example of corporate synergy? Only time will tell.