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As Apple And Samsung Vie Over Tablet Patents, Judge At Center Of A Tech Storm

Publication Date: 
July 18, 2012
The Washington Post
Cecilia Kang

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with Cecilia Kang from the Washington Post about what he believes is the "bigger indictment of the patent system" to come from the most recent developments in the Apple/Samsung patent battle.

As Apple and Samsung escalated a multibillion-dollar war over one of the hottest consumer gadgets of our time, the tablet computer, a little-known judge did for Apple what the company couldn’t do on its own: She shut down the competition.

The stunning move by U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh to temporarily order Samsung’s tablets off the shelves last month rippled across the tech industry because her decision came as sales of the devices are surging. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was one of the few 10-inch screen tablets that could go toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPad.


"Judge Koh might reasonably bear the brunt of public criticism, but . . .this is really a bigger indictment of the patent system," said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School.

Lemley estimates smartphone companies have doled out $600 million to $700 million in legal fees over patent disputes. They have spent between $15 billlion and $20 billion on massive patent acquisitions that allow the richest firms to leapfrog competitors by buying up inventions.