All is fair in love and war and in the IT world

December 14, 2010

Legal battles over software patent portfolios are just business. Microsoft appears to constantly be leading a steady, although indirect, battle against Google. IT companies are continually trying to get one up on the competition by acquiring available patents. Today’s IT world is a steady show of strength and intimidation with the objective of deterring others from actually attacking.

Military strategy in the IT industry
The deterrence theory, a military strategy is most often used where nuclear weapons are concerned. This term applies to any type of group, in any form of prospective battle, which is suspected of being ready to fight and to cause important, and often times, objectionable harm to anyone who would dare attack them. The idea behind this theory is that the potential attacker is made aware of the grave harm that they would be exposed to should they dare to attack, therefore dissuading potential assaults. In the civilian world, this term is applicable to the ongoing battles within the giant, and not so giant, players of the IT world.

Google, Microsoft and others battling for supremacy
The IT world is in a constant battle for mindshare and market share. Who will be the first to come up with the next application, social media trend, internet marketing plan or game (think of what Farmville did for Facebook) that will take the IT world by storm, and literally, acquire the love of the consumers, and their money?

Google, Microsoft, Apple and many other IT companies are in a constant battle of patent protection and infringement rights1. Patents are part of the greater intellectual property arena, and companies battling by using other rights as well. For example, Viacom, with the support of Microsoft and Sting, is charging YouTube with copyright infringement2.

As opposed to land and borders, these battles involve information technology. The key strategy is to let the opponents know how much harm could be done to a critical sector of activity within their company or to a major customer should the patent holder continuously have to defend itself.

Wireless technology patents up for grabs
While the battle in the courts continues, other clashes are occurring on the playing field as companies josh for positioning in order to acquire more patents that would give them an edge. Apple and Google, two relative newcomers to the wireless industry, are currently vying for available patents belonging to the once almighty Nortel Networks3. The vision is that with the impending implementation of 4G networks, anyone who owns the rights to this wireless technology will not only shield their company from harm and defend their business interests, but will gain an advantage which will enable them to penalize opponents and give stakeholders ammo in future proceedings over any intellectual property4.

By mounting huge patent portfolios, specifically in the mobile sector, all sides seem to be following the deterrence theory and most participants appear to be very well versed in its tactics and strategies. Not surprising in the ongoing battle for market place in the IT world.


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