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Samsung-Apple Patent Fight: Is It Worth It?

Publication Date: 
May 07, 2013
The Wall Street Journal
Ashby Jones

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with The Wall Street Journal's Ashby Jones on how expensive litigation in the "patent wars" has yielded little reward from the courts and how it may prevent others in the future as viewing litigation as the "pathway to profitability." 

Smartphone makers who went on the offensive in the industry's patent wars are learning a tough lesson: The courts aren't buying it.

The nearly $300 billion industry has been roiled by more than three years of expensive litigation in courts from California to South Korea. But a string of rulings in big cases has left litigants with little to show for all the trouble. The courts have proven as likely to deliver plaintiffs a rebuke as a win, and the slow grinding of the justice system has sapped the impact of the occasional big victories.


Judge Robart's decision comes amid questions about the strategies that have led technology heavyweights from Google to Microsoft to Apple to Nokia Corp. to the courts. Recent rulings "further this notion that buying up a few patents and trying to get rich off them by suing is a questionable pathway to profitability," said Mark Lemley, a patent-law expert and law professor at Stanford University, who has represented Google in unrelated litigation.