Patents for technological developments are often incredibly complex. Companies can patent processes, software and physical technology, like playable game devices with screens that people can split in half. Patents for software and devices can give one company a profound edge over its competitors, although those competitors are unlikely to sit back and tolerate losing a significant share of the market.
Other tech companies may try to reverse engineer what a business develops. Frequently, companies that invest quite a bit in the research and development of new technology or cutting-edge software will eventually discover that their competitors have infringed on their patents. They will then need to take action to protect against ongoing infringement and to recoup their related losses.
A recent Nokia lawsuit highlights patent risks
Nokia is a Finnish company that has a strong reputation on the global technology market. The company is famous for putting out a variety of different phones and also cutting-edge software. Unfortunately, its competitors have allegedly infringed on the organization’s patents, which is relatively common in the industry.
Nokia filed a lawsuit in Delaware on Tuesday, October 31st, 2023. The defendants are Amazon and HP Inc. Representatives for Nokia allege that Amazon’s video streaming services infringe on Nokia patents related to video compression and delivery. They make similar claims about certain HP computers. Instead of licensing the breakthroughs that Nokia patented, both Amazon and HP allegedly used Nokia technology to create better streaming opportunities for their customers.
There are similar lawsuits pending in Germany, India and the United Kingdom, as well as in the European Unified Patent Court. Many other companies have made use of the same technology but have done so with appropriate licenses in place that compensate Nokia for its investment in streaming video research and development.
Nokia indicated in public statements that the company remains open to licensing agreements but will likely demand damages if the companies do not come to an amicable agreement on the matter. The courts could award financial damages to Nokia or possibly order the infringing companies to cease certain business activities, which would likely cut into the profitability of the Amazon Prime streaming service.
This case is a valuable reminder of how important patents are and how both enforcement and licensing efforts can help companies recoup what they have invested in the development of new technology in order to address infringement and to safeguard against additional misconduct.