Who has the most patents? Apple sues despite smaller patent portfolio

It’s no secret patent-related legal disputes have become the subject of most media coverage lately…Whether it’s Apple halting sales of Samsung’s tablets, HTC going after Apple, or Google snatching up Motorola to beef up their patent portfolio, it’s clear the company with the most patents will have an advantage over others in the legal proceedings that we’re bound to continue encountering down the road. This is why we’re intrigued by the graphic above (via GigaOM) from mobile analyst Chetan Sharma charting the number of issued patents (in the US and Europe) between 1993 and 2011.

While these estimates of mobile communications related patents don’t take the quality of patents into account (which is obviously a huge factor in determining their long-term value), you can see from the breakdown below that Nokia and Samsung top the list, with the other expected players including IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Motorola, and Intel following.

Noticeably far down the list is Apple, the one company who seems to have had more success than others fighting patent-related issues recently. Again, these numbers in no way represent the quality of patents and the ability for companies to protect their IPs in the courtroom… which is also a good indication that perhaps we should be looking more closely at the quality of patents rather than the sheer number.

Recently patent expert Florian Mueller took to Twitter following the Google/Motorola acquisition saying he“would caution everyone against overestimating the strength of Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio,”  he continued, “Apple and Microsoft sued Motorola Mobility anyway”. Remember kids… all patents aren’t created equally.
Read more

Updated: Samsung Responds… Apple stops Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 distribution in European Union

Update: Samsung has issued the following statement (via TNW) addressing the court’s decision to grant Apple the preliminary injunction:

Samsung is disappointed with the court’s decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world.

The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung.

We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world.

This decision by the court in Germany in no way influences other legal proceedings filed with the courts in Europe and elsewhere.

Reports are coming in that Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction for the entire European Union (excluding Netherlands) that will halt distribution of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. This comes on the heels of a postponed launch of the device in Australia due to a lawsuit with Apple.

The decision by the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in Germany to block sales of the device comes after a judge sided with Apple on claims that Galaxy Tab copied key design components related to the iPad 2. While Samsung can appeal the court’s decision sometime in the next month, the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond is quick to point out it would be heard by the same judge. Apple is also said to have a separate lawsuit filed in the Netherlands as well.

Samsung had this to say in a recent statement about their legal disputes with Apple:

“Samsung believes that there is no legal basis for this assertion. We will continue to serve our customers and distributors and the sale of Samsung products will be continued.”

And Apple has made their stance on the situation clear…

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Read more