Patent wars heat up

Apple and Samsung's patent fight may have received the most attention about intellectual property litigants, but they were hardly the only companies focused on their technology patent piles.

patent system
Illustration by James Martin/CNET

Apple and Samsung's patent fight may have received the most attention about intellectual property litigants, but they were hardly the only ones. In fact, it may be easier to name big tech companies not engaged in a patent suit than it is to name the ones that have taken their intellectual property disputes the courtroom...or at least threatening to do so. The so-called balance of terror where big companies amass stockpiles of patents in order to discourage litigation turned into a legal free-for-all. Barely a day passed when a tech company, from Facebook to Microsoft, wasn't named in some sort of IP suit.

And believe it or not, this was the year that optimists believed patent reform would reduce litigation. It used to be (or at least we like to think it used to be) that winning in the marketplace was all that mattered. But 2012 left us with a pessimistic sense that winning in the marketplace is only step one in tech industry success. Step two is winning in the courtroom.

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