in the pantheon of technology lawsuits there have recently been several worthy bouts of note involving the heavy hitters of tech. apple, microsoft and google have all been very publicly involved with lawsuits and counter-suits and what have you, mostly dealing with technology in the mobile sphere. gaming wasn’t able to duck it either, with sony’s recent dealings with hacked consoles and now-famous geohot and a california raid on an xbox modder last year. whenever something like this hits the news, i (as i’m sure many others do) start to worry about what would happen to consumer products involved if one of these companies were to win. i mean ACTUALLY win, effectively ending availability to the consumer tech in question.
and it goes on – just across the pond this time – sony vs LG round 2. the immediate consumer-consequence fallout? the guardian reports that european customs agents have been instructed to seize playstation 3’s from entering the region for 10 days. now this dispute, as they always are, is about who owns what. in this case, sony was sued by LG for allegedly infringing on their patents concerning blu-ray technology, and have successfully won an injunction that allows them to block incoming playstation 3 imports. this also includes sony’s bravia line of televisions. the blu-ray patents involve how multiple data streams are received and processed, as well as reproducing that data onto a read-only device. i call this round 2, because i, as many others, speculate that this is a revenge suit by LG, having been sued by sony last year claiming infringement on LG phones and modems sold in the united states. back then sony asked for, you guessed it, the court to stop LG from importing, marketing, or selling those infringing devices in the US. the involved patents? a few actual technologies like transmission of digital signals and storage of photographs. but one was for delaying the recording on a cell phone so that the recording doesn’t pick up the button clicking to activate record mode. another was for associating pictures to phone numbers on caller ID. ridiculous? a little. patentable? yes, for many riches. sony claims that they have licensing deals in place with nokia and others and that LG should do the same to use the same tech in their products.
ahhh revenge. what other reason would LG have to wait this long after sony’s release to drop the law hammer on them?
now sony does still have a SOME stock on the shelves over there, a reported 2-3 weeks worth, but if this situation goes on for an extended period of time, european customers may be threatened with not having a playstation 3 to buy. in the netherlands alone they’ve seized tens of thousands of consoles and are just stockpiling them in dutch warehouses until some resolution can be reached. sony can appeal to the patent office to have the ban lifted, but at the same time LG has the power to lobby for an extension of the ban. they’re even within their rights to file that the warehoused playstations be destroyed, but that probably won’t happen. so potentially, while there may not be consoles to sell to european customers, sony may also have to compensate LG for every. console. they’ve. sold. worldwide. i feel bad for the people at sony that had to calculate how much cash that is – according to the guardian sony’s sold 3 million playstation 3 consoles in just the UK since march of 2007. that’s tons of pounds. i hope consumers don’t suffer on either front – on the ps3 side OR the LG phone side, all of the tech involved is pretty nice.
with tech lawsuits becoming such a nice part of life as the big new thing these days, the question has to be raised as to whether or not the patent system needs to be revisited to prevent the ridiculous situations we’ve seen in the past few years. i understand that inventors need protection on the things they design, but when is enough enough? pictures on caller ID? really? tech patent law is just a troll game these days, with users potentially being the ones to pay. i propose we just put a representative from each company involved in a tech lawsuit (and paul allen) in the cage and have them fight it out. at least then we can be entertained when this noise goes on. and it should be set up so you can stream it on your ps3. or your LG quantum for that matter.