A company has the right to protect its innovation through the patent application system and rigorously defend any infringement through patent prosecution, but is there a gray area that jeopardizes a consumer’s right to a competitive market?
Take the recent litigation by Apple vs. Samsung into account, where Apple alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy Note Tablet contains their technology and styling, and you could find an argument for consumer choice. When technological advances create a situation where the consumer market demands a synchronized approach to product usability, is it fair that an ongoing prosecution can effectively remove a brand from the market by stopping sales?
In this fast-paced world, is it viable to expect a consumer to spend days relearning a completely different user interface every time they happen to change brands? With the current fines levied on Samsung, there’s no doubt that Apple has had prior cause for complaint to protect its patents, but how will ongoing litigation effect consumer choice if a sales halt is called?
What may be the biggest cause for consumer alarm is the idea of a product monopoly, which could create elevated prices in the market. Patent protection and prosecution, with competitive consumer choice in mind, can therefore become a minefield for any company with a consumer-focused public image to maintain.
In the technology field, patent prosecution is widespread, so it is essential that patent designs are detailed and all-encompassing to create a clear route to prosecution should an infringement occur. Whether the route for prosecution should also entail a sales ban is something that savvy inventors and businesses need to discuss with their patent attorneys going forward in this consumer-lead market.