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Gemalto launches Android patent suit

Thursday 4 November 2010

Gemalto is not alone in these patent wars. Google is already involved with a wide-ranging dispute with Oracle over the use of Java in Android. Microsoft has also launched an Android-related suit against Motorola, alleging that a number of features supported by handsets from the recovering vendor infringe Microsoft patents. A number of other patent actions are also underway in the handset market, not least Nokia’s wide ranging dispute with Apple, which has seen a number of complaints made to a number of courts internationally.

Microsoft has signed an agreement with HTC to get royalties from Taiwan-based equipment vendors, for the use of its patents in devices powered by Android. It was suggested that it is following this path in order to make Android and Chrome, Google’s other device platform, look less appealing, because of the need to still pay Microsoft licensing fees.

Since 2006 the number of mobile handset patent complaints has increased by 20% annually, according to Lex Machina, a US-based IP litigation / diligence medium. This grows along with the explosion of the global handset market. These may make the smart phone more expensive. Analyst estimates that handset makers should pay royalties for 200-300 patents for a typical smart phone, which costs 15% - 20% of its selling price or half of the hardware cost.

Following the example of Oracle, Gemalto may gains more publicity in this suit, but what it is facing will be lawyer teams from the Internet search giant and 3 more major players in the industry. This means huge lawyer fees and a long duration of the battle which may create uncertainties when more important technologies come to replace the existing ones.