2012 was the year of the patent wars. Apple won $1.1 billion, Research In Motion was accused and found guilty of violating a patent for the type of technology that made it billions of dollars and Google paid $12.5 billion to purchase a company that it would later use to sue Apple thanks to its new treasure trove of available mobile industry patents. Here are some of the biggest patent lawsuits of 2012.

Apple Vs. Samsung – The $1.1 Billion Patent Case

Samsung was found to be in violation of Apple patents involving the design of its smartphone and tablet devices and a federal judge awarded Apple $1.1 billion for its troubles. The case which answered more than 700 technology complaints quickly became one of the biggest in patent law history.

Samsung earns more than $5 billion per quarter so its financial future is undoubtedly still strong thanks to the success of its TV and Smartphone lines among other devices.

Because the case also answers questions regarding software used in the devices it could potential open Google and Google Android smartphone producers up to further losses in the future.

Most important is the fact that many federal judges have begun to speak out against the US patent system because of the litigious nature of patent lawsuits.

This case was by far the biggest patent lawsuit of 2012.

Research In Motion Vs. MFormation

Blackberry devices are known for their email capabilities, most specifically their email security. Needless to say Research in Motion was shocked when a verdict was handed down to Mformation Technologies Inc. to the tune of $147.2 million.

The company was shocked because the patent infringement lawsuit involved a 1999 invention for remotely managing wireless devices. Mformation’s software allows companies to remotely access employee cell phones to perform software upgrades, change passwords and wipe data, all important aspects of every single Blackberry smartphone device.

This patent lawsuit dealt a particular blow because Research In Motion is already experiencing drastic declines in North American sales. Research in Motion is appealing the courts decision that ended up in favor of MFormation.

While not the biggest patent lawsuit of the year this particular case likely dealt the biggest financial blow because of RIM’s failing return on investments.

Motorola Mobility Vs. Apple

This case should really be called “Google vs. Apple” because Google used its new leverage via the purchase of Motorola to go after its biggest smartphone rival. Motorola sued Apple claiming that the company violated seven of its patents involving location reminders, email notification, and even Siri.

Motorola Vs Apple

This particular patent lawsuit has quickly become one of the biggest not because of major legal awards but rather because it showcases the industry-wide bickering that the current patent system has created.

Google spent $12.5 billion to purchase Motorola Mobility and most experts agree that it was largely a patent buy thanks to Motorola’s long and storied history in the mobile space and the various patents that history has helped develop.

In 2010 patent licensing agreements between Google and Apple failed and the Motorola patent lawsuit quickly highlighted the lengths company’s will go to in order to get their hands on the technology they want and need.

Patent litigation in the United States is a mess. In many cases patents do not even have actual technology built around them, waiting instead until another company implemented intellectual property before pouncing. In other cases patents cover far reaching concepts in which software and hardware has not been built and in which very simple ideas are turned into intellectual property lawsuits.

 

[Image via geeky-gadgets]